Greenwald and Hussain on Sam Harris and Racism

This post is a member’s response to a current event. The opinions expressed in this piece are not necessarily those of the SAIU.

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I know of no living public intellectual whose views get caricatured and misrepresented quite as routinely as do Sam Harris‘.

What’s disheartening isn’t that people disagree with Harris. It’s that they haven’t taken the time to understand what’s there to disagree with! I don’t know whether Harris is right or wrong regarding a lot of the positions he defends. But I do know that whether he’s right or wrong is of profound importance — that these are topics that strike at the heart of our political and ethical principles. So it is endlessly disappointing when other public figures simply fail to engage with any views or assertions even in the vicinity of Harris’.

A case in point: Yesterday, Glenn Greenwald retweeted an Al Jazeera article by Murtaza Hussain, “Scientific racism, militarism, and the new atheists“. The article argues for a strong continuity between the pseudoscientific racism of many historical thinkers, and the contemporary criticisms of Islam by “new atheists” like Harris.

Although I’m unfamiliar with Hussain’s other work, my past experience with both Greenwald and Al Jazeera has generally been very positive. So I was stunned to find the article in question packed with misinformation and outright libel. A relatively careful and sensitive attempt to defend a thesis like Hussain’s might appeal to psychological studies and sociological models indicating that our fear of the Other can sometimes unconsciously skew our priorities, potentially causing anyone — even an avowed anti-racist like Harris — to misunderstand the causes for his own concerns. But this sort of armchair psychoanalysis is not Hussain’s approach. Instead, he simply misstates Harris’ actual, on-the-record views, making him out to be an overt supporter of racism, fascism, and genocide.

Harris confronted Greenwald, pointing out that the article was simply not accurate. And Greenwald… stuck by the article.

I profess bafflement. I cannot imagine that if Greenwald took the time to do a little more research, he would continue to endorse Hussain’s transparent journalistic misconduct. Even if you remain inwardly convinced that someone is a racist, you should not hesitate to retract demonstrable falsehoods presented as evidence for that accusation. It is one thing to castigate and condemn a person; it is quite another to publicly endorse intellectual dishonesty as a means of defaming that person.

What did Hussain write? I’ll assess eight representative assertions.

 

[1] [I]n the case of Muslims Harris has publicly stated his support for torture,

No. This suggests that Harris has called for the torture of actual, real-world individuals or groups. Moreover, it suggests that he somehow thinks Muslims, and Muslims alone, are uniquely deserving of torture. Both of these claims are false. Harris has certainly said that it is not impossible for torture to be justified in hypothetical extreme scenarios; but this is a view primarily about general ethical theory, and not about political practice.

As it happens, it is the same position endorsed in the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy’s article on torture; so as philosophy it is perhaps not as deranged as it initially sounds. But what’s relevant here isn’t whether Harris’ brand of consequentialism is right or wrong, noble or despicable. It’s that his view simply isn’t what Hussain claims it is.

[EDIT: Harris' view on torture is actually somewhat complicated. If you want more details on his current position, I suggest reading this 2011 article. Even though Harris thinks there can be extraordinary circumstances in which torture is ethically justifiable "in principle", he thinks it should remain illegal, and he thinks that known instances of torture (e.g., at Abu Ghraib) were "sadistic", "stupid", and "patently unethical". Most relevantly, Harris' reasoning, be it right or wrong, holds equally for Muslims and for non-Muslims, contrary to Hussain's "in the case of Muslims" qualifier.]

 

[2] [In the case of Muslims Harris has supported] pre-emptive nuclear weapons strikes,

No. The source of this falsehood is the fact that Sam Harris once described (with explicit horror and revulsion) a scenario in which pre-emptive nuclear weapons strikes might occur. Relatively scruple-free journalists like Chris Hedges then took this passage and, well, lied about it. It’s… actually no more complicated than that. See Harris’ response.

 

 [3] [Harris has supported] the security profiling of not just Muslims themselves, but in his own words ‘anyone who looks like he or she could conceivably be Muslim’. Again, while Islam is not a race, those who are identified with Islam are the predominantly black and brown people who would be caught up in the charge of ‘looking Muslim’ which Harris makes.

This is at least not literally false. Instead, it leaves out the fact that Harris thinks the profiling should be primarily non-racial, and insofar as it is racial it should focus to a significant extent on white people like himself. Quoting Harris in the very article on profiling Hussain cited:

When I speak of profiling ‘Muslims, or anyone who looks like he or she could conceivably be Muslim,’ I am not narrowly focused on people with dark skin. In fact, I included myself in the description of the type of person I think should be profiled (twice). To say that ethnicity, gender, age, nationality, dress, traveling companions, behavior in the terminal, and other outward appearances offer no indication of a person’s beliefs or terrorist potential is either quite crazy or totally dishonest.

If Harris’ views on profiling are to be taken simply as proof of his racism, are we to gather that he also harbors a racial bias against white people? To be clear, I’m not endorsing Harris’ view on profiling here. I’m only endorsing discussing these issues without reliance on caricature.

 

[4] Harris has also written in the past his belief [sic] that the ‘Muslim world’ itself lacks the characteristic of honesty,

No, he’s written that Muslims routinely refuse to honestly evaluate the doctrines of Islam. Quoth he: “Who will reform Islam if moderate Muslims refuse to speak honestly about the very doctrines in need of reform?

Summing Harris’ view up as “the Muslim world itself lacks the characteristic of honesty” is deliberately modifying Harris’ statements to sound maximally simplistic and culturally essentializing. This, of course, helps make it tie better into Hussain’s chosen narrative. But if Harris’ assertions reflect a skewed world-view, should it not be possible to critique them without going to the trouble of distorting them first?

 

[5] [Harris has written that] Muslims as a people ‘do not have a clue about what constitutes civil society‘.

No. The source of the misquotation is this statement by Harris:

A third of young British Muslims say they want to live under sharia law and think that anyone who leaves the faith should be put to death. This is a third of British Muslims. 68% of British Muslims think that their neighbors who insult Islam should be arrested and prosecuted. 78% think that the Danish cartoonists should be brought to justice. These people do not have a clue about what constitutes a civil society.

To my knowledge, he does not say this of “Muslims as a people“. If he does, then Hussain should cite that, and not cite a random mistitled Youtube video.

 

[6] As he has said: ‘It is time we admitted that we are not at war with terrorism. We are at war with Islam.’ This belief in the need to fight open-ended war against Muslims [...]

No. Stop right there. ‘War with Islam‘ does not have the same semantic content as ‘Open-ended war against Muslims‘.

The former quotation makes it sound like Harris thinks the doctrines of Islam are causally responsible for terrorism, and that these doctrines must be undermined if the violence is to end. Plenty of people would contest this claim. But in so doing they need not pretend that Harris is making the latter assertion, as though Harris thinks we should violently attack any and all Muslims indefinitely. This is simply not an honest paraphrase.

 

[7] Indeed he argues in his book that the only suitable form of government for Muslim people is ‘benign dictatorship‘, an echo of the 19th century social theorist George Fitzhugh who argued in favour of slavery by saying: ‘The Negro is but a grown up child, and must be governed as a child.’

This is a transparent lie. In at least five different respects.

  • (a) Harris is not talking exclusively about countries with large Muslim populations in the relevant passage. At least, North Korea was not a predominantly Muslim country the last time I checked….
  • (b) Harris is talking about relatively oppressive states, not states with populations of any particular cultural background.
  • (c) Harris is differentiating these states based on political and economic freedoms, not based on race or skin color.
  • (d) Harris does not endorse ‘benevolent dictators’ in general, but merely, citing Fareed Zakaria, raises the hypothesis that such dictators may not be a terrible idea in all cases. His worry seems to be that rushing to democratize the entire world will have a destabilizing, schism-producing effect.
  • (e) Harris does not endorse such dictators as a permanent solution in any circumstance, at most merely as a transitional one.

Note: Strongly attacking any or all of these views does not require deceiving anyone about what is actually being asserted! Really. It doesn’t.

 

[8] Harris has stated that the correct policy with regard to Western Muslim populations is in fact that which is currently being pursued by contemporary fascist movements today. In Harris’ view: ‘The people who speak most sensibly about the threat that Islam poses to Europe are actually fascists.’

No. Harris was not citing fascists approvingly. (Good grief!) He was criticizing liberals for getting a moral issue wrong that is so obvious (in his view) that even some extremists — or, as Harris calls them in the same passage, “lunatics” — have figured it out. If I half-jokingly noted ‘Even Hitler saw that vegetarianism was a good idea,’ I would not be citing Hitler approvingly; I would be suggesting that the sanity waterline is very low indeed.

In quoting Harris out of context here, and failing to in any way indicate Harris’ actual meaning, I do not think it an overstatement to say that Hussain forfeits any claim to journalistic credibility.

 

Hussain, Greenwald, and Al Jazeera have betrayed an important trust to their readers today. They now owe them, and Harris, an apology and a retraction for writing, promoting, and publishing without disclaimer, respectively, such an irresponsible hit piece.

Here’s hoping they do better tomorrow.

 

[UPDATE, April 8: The above doesn't really address the deeper significance of Murtaza's thesis, or the truth of his and Greenwald's more general claims. It merely reports on an instance of journalistic misconduct. Since there's so much interest in the more substantive issues here, I've written a follow-up post to continue the discussion: Is "Islamophobia" Real?]

Robby Bensinger posted this on April 3, 2013

Robby has been a member of the Secular Alliance since its inception.

277 responses

  • Conrad De La Torres said on April 3, 2013 at 5:09 pm

    Spot on. Good work!

  • Matt Thornton said on April 3, 2013 at 5:11 pm

    Great article, thanks for taking the time to reference it all. I am not holding my breath for any apologies, but you’re correct that one is owed.

  • matt said on April 3, 2013 at 5:12 pm

    bravo. thank you, sir!

  • Ahmed said on April 3, 2013 at 5:16 pm

    Sam Harris: “In our dealings with the Muslim world, we must acknowledge that Muslims have not found anything of substance to say against the actions of the September 11 hijackers, apart from the ubiquitous canard that they were really Jews.”

    So, Robby, how are you going to defend this one from Sam? Are you going to say that Sam did not say ALL Muslims, and so for him to say this is ok?

  • George said on April 3, 2013 at 5:19 pm

    What a great article, one of the most well written pieces of journalism I have read in a long time. Hussain, Greenwald, and Al Jazeera could learn a thing or two from you Robby, you made the research and backed your comments up with evidence and quotations (and not of the mining variety). Well done and I sincerely hope that the above mentioned will make an apology because Sam Harris is certainly no racist. It all stinks of an attempt make Sam less credible and put down one of the world’s truly great minds.

  • Ahmed said on April 3, 2013 at 5:26 pm

    You also state that Harris stated:
    A third of young British Muslims say they want to live under sharia law and think that anyone who leaves the faith should be put to death.

    This is a complete lie.
    What the survey actually said was:

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/religion/2461830/Killing-for-religion-is-justified-say-third-of-Muslim-students.html

    Although 53 per cent said that killing in the name of religion was never justified, compared with 94 per cent of non-Muslims, 32 per cent said that it was. Of these, 4 per cent said killing could be justified to “promote or preserve” religion, while 28 per cent said it was acceptable if that religion were under attack.

    In other words, the majority of Muslims are AGAINST killing in the name of Islam at all costs. Funny how Harris does not mention this. Furthermore, of the 32 per cent that do justify it, the majority of them say it is only acceptable if the religion is under attack – much like Harris endorses killing if America is under attack.

    So, yes, Harris is completely dishonest here, and so I am calling him and you out on this.

  • Danny said on April 3, 2013 at 5:27 pm

    I don’t think they’re racists, but I would still call Harris and Hitchens religious fanatics. They are fanatics of the state religion, the one that says we have to support the horrendous violence of our own state for all sorts of dubious reasons. Their support of the Iraq war is nearly unforgivable.

  • Rucker said on April 3, 2013 at 5:31 pm

    Good for you for pointing out the dishonesty of the response to Harris.

  • Adam said on April 3, 2013 at 5:31 pm

    Nice work. Watching people constantly misrepresent Sam’s work is tedious. Glad you took the time to set the record(s) straight.

  • Daniel said on April 3, 2013 at 5:32 pm

    Great defence of intellectual integrity. A rare thing it seems. Bravo.

  • John said on April 3, 2013 at 5:33 pm

    This article made me damn proud to be an IU alumni.

  • Jeff said on April 3, 2013 at 5:37 pm

    Please, I beg, show me where Greenfield said that he stands behind the article. If you can’t do that and yet you went on to “analyze” the way Harris is misrepresented, I’ll consider what you wrote performance art. But you are a good writer.

  • Spirokeat said on April 3, 2013 at 5:37 pm

    Well articulated. I tip my hat to you Sir.

  • Nic said on April 3, 2013 at 5:39 pm

    Clear, concise, and honest. Excellent article.

  • Alan Litchfield said on April 3, 2013 at 5:40 pm

    Dear theists: There is absolutely nothing wrong with criticizing Sam Harris or the “New Atheist” project (Gnu . . . .), but, for the love of your god and all that is allegedly holy, read what he writes and utilize at least SOME reading comprehension skills before you open your pious pie-hole.

  • Sanchez said on April 3, 2013 at 5:46 pm

    Exactly what I wish I had the time and/or talent to have written. I’m glad you noticed (and I hope others have to) that Sam’s most vociferous critics generally argue by imputing to him beliefs to which he does not subscribe and then repudiating those ascribed beliefs. I’m never certain whether they’re intellectually incapable of grasping the nuance that characterizes his writings, or if they are consciously disingenuous because they believe their ends justify their disreputable means. That said, I hope you’re ready to be quote-mined and have your views misrepresented should those who you’ve rightfully reprimanded happen to respond to your illuminating clarification.

  • Brendan said on April 3, 2013 at 5:47 pm

    Well said. It pains me to see someone like Glen Greenwald temporarily transmogrify into an irrational demagogue when it comes to this issue.

  • Harold Valentine said on April 3, 2013 at 5:47 pm

    Good & honest analysis!

  • Joe said on April 3, 2013 at 5:53 pm

    Great article! Nice to see a perfect rebuttal to Hussain’s misrepresentations.

  • Nigel said on April 3, 2013 at 5:53 pm

    Hi Robby,
    Having read the ‘an Exchange with Glenn Greenwald’ i noted a post to this article at the bottom.
    Really enjoyed reading your contribution.
    It is great to see people taking an interest in promoting logic and honesty in debate. And I agree, one thing that makes Sam H so interesting is that he talks about things that matter.

    Cheers
    Nigel

  • Richard Walker said on April 3, 2013 at 5:55 pm

    Excellent article. I really hope it gets as widely circulated as all of the garbage it so eloquently destroys.
    Top drawer stuff.

  • Murtaza Hussain said on April 3, 2013 at 5:56 pm

    Hi Robby,

    I think your criticisms only make sense when you divorce Harris’ words from their real-world context and are also very convinced of his own unimpeachable good faith. When he argues for the utility of torture it is very different when he is doing so in complete theoretical abstraction and when he is doing so in the context of fierce public debates about extraordinary rendition, Guantanamo Bay and Abu Ghraib. When you contextualize his words and the argument he’s making, he is clearly not talking about amorphous non-real world individuals but rather the victims of the wars of the past decade. The same dynamic applies to using nuclear weapons – it is happening during a debate where the prospect of a Muslim country attaining such weapons (Iran) has been raised in the popular consciousness, and he makes his prescription in that context. If Harris were stridently apolitical I’d say his arguments and theoretical constructs are just being appropriated by others, but rather the opposite is true and Harris is extremely forthright about his politics in this regard. Again, “benign dictatorship”, “going to war against Islam” would be quite different if he was oblivious to the horrific real-world events he is commenting on. You seem to afford him the ironclad benefit of the doubt in all these cases that he is an impartial observer despite his many other public comments (which you omit) which speak to the contrary.

  • David Fuchs said on April 3, 2013 at 6:00 pm

    1) You are a great, thorough thinker!

    2) I disagreed w/ ony one thing. Sam did not think that “even” fascists understand, that liberals should understand *even more*. He meant that he “made common cause” w/ them, w/ his strange bedfellows. The way Hassidic Jews joined w/ Islamists to fight gays. The way (decades ago) radical feminists joined w/ the Christian Right to fight pornography.

  • Sammy said on April 3, 2013 at 6:07 pm

    Part of political Islam’s power are the well-intended but naive Liberals who defend it without discernment. In today’s discourse words like “racism” and “Islamophobia” are thrown about in an attempt to discredit their opposition in an argument they are losing. Thank you for speaking up and demanding an apology.

  • Parker said on April 3, 2013 at 6:12 pm

    Great analysis. I too was shocked at how he kept defending himself after Sam had a more than valid reply. I feel as if people become so concerned with being viewed as “politically correct” that any well thought out criticisms are immediately lumped into racism and fear. We need more people like you and Sam!

  • bobby said on April 3, 2013 at 6:14 pm

    Excellent and clear analysis.
    K.R.
    From the Netherlands

  • Mark Hidden said on April 3, 2013 at 6:16 pm

    Good job, now I hope Sam will let you run interference for him in the future. He really should put you on his payroll as a PR guy…

  • T Morgan said on April 3, 2013 at 6:17 pm

    Thanks for taking the time to write this up, Robby. I’m nearly always a fan of Greenwald’s work, so it was disheartening to see his flippant, childish responses to Sam. Ugly sneering, frankly. Of course, no one is right all the time, so I’m not going to hurl any insults at Glenn or drop respect for his work. If anything, his reaction makes me reconsider the thinking left and just how susceptible we all are to perceived group norms. It’s also evidence that people argue against the points they *wish* were presented and not the ones that actually were. Even smart, well-meaning people like Glenn.

    I suspect Glenn has a larger axe to grind because, as Chomsky said, Harris (and the late Hitchens) ‘worship the religion of the State’. A clever turn of phrase, but also reductionist and not especially honest. Indeed, the reverse could be more true: Glenn’s reaction on this issue rather reminds me of religious zealotry. Belief is a powerful thing and leftist thinking can be dogmatized like anything else.

  • olsonic said on April 3, 2013 at 6:18 pm

    well done. i think you did what we all wish we had the time for, and did it bettee than most of us would have if we did commit the time

  • olsonic said on April 3, 2013 at 6:19 pm

    mobile phone typing >.<

  • brujo said on April 3, 2013 at 6:21 pm

    great response. Well thought out and good use of language. I agree that Harris is being misrepresented, although I would hesitate to bring the word fascism in to any article about civil society and religion. He was making a reasonable point but Harris is almost inviting misinterpretation with that.

  • Murtaza Hussain said on April 3, 2013 at 6:24 pm

    I left a response here which is unreflected, hopefully you can shed some light on that.

  • Murtaza Hussain said on April 3, 2013 at 6:25 pm

    My response here is unreflected, hopefully you will shed some light on that.

  • Allan said on April 3, 2013 at 6:28 pm

    When someone takes the time to distinguish what was actually written from what was “said to be written” it deserves applause. So I applaud you Robby.

    Ahmed, your only point here seems to be that “the new atheists” support the disintegration of Islam.
    The correct statement here would be that the the “top of the charts” published Atheists (Harris, Dawkins, Hitchens (R.I.P)) SUPPORT THE DISINTEGRATION OF ALL ORGANIZED FORMS OF MYTHOLOGICAL RELIGIONS.

    And I can only hope that the day finally comes where rational thinking, logic, exploration of thought and science trump blind faith, dogma, doctrine and ignorance.

  • anon said on April 3, 2013 at 6:35 pm

    It’s disappointing you find Al Jazeera and The Guardian to be positive media outlets. Do you realise Al Jazeera is the state propaganda outlet of a country where homosexuality is illegal, where women’s finances are legally under the control of either their father or husband, and where a man got 15 years in jail for writing a poem calling for democracy? Why would you have a positive experience with them?

    Qatar is not a free country – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Freedom_in_the_World#Middle_East_and_North_Africa

    And does not have a free press – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Freedom_of_the_Press_%28report%29#Middle_East_and_North_Africa

    Even just reading their wikipedia pages shows that a terrorist who beat a Jewish family to death was thrown a party by Al Jazeera when he was released from prison, and The Guardian routinely makes up lies about Israel such as the Jenin massacre – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_Jenin#Massacre_allegations, and is a mouth piece for Islamic terrorists including the leader of Hamas. Hamas jail pregnant women for 5 years if they are not married and have sent thousands of rockets into Israel trying to kill civilians. The Guardian is so obsessed with criticising Israel, a country that represents 0.1% of the world’s population, that only 4 foreign countries receive more coverage (USA, Iraq, Afghanistan & China).

    These two media companies are strongly opposed to the one civilized state in the middle east, the only one where nonbelievers have a modicum of civil and political liberties. A state whose founding fathers were all atheist intellectuals. The state with the highest per capita research and development spending in the world. No atheist should be using these outlets for news. Visit http://www.cifwatch.com to see a comprehensive analysis of The Guardian’s antisemitism.

    Here’s a little sample:

    At an undated event, Salah [a Guardian writer] made several anti-Jewish assertions. He firstly claimed that the Jews are “butchers of pregnant women and babies,” and followed this up by maintaining that the Jews are “thieves, you [Jews] are the bacteria of all times… The Creator meant for you to be monkeys and losers… Victory is with the Muslims, from the Nile to the Euphrates.”

  • Robby Bensinger said on April 3, 2013 at 6:38 pm

    Jeff asked, “Please, I beg, show me where Greenfield said that he stands behind the article.”

    When Harris pointed out that the article misrepresented Harris’ stated views, Greenwald responded: “I know Murtaza [Hussain]’s writings really well and he’s always trustworthy and diligent, and I think he was here, too.” http://www.samharris.org/blog/item/dear-fellow-liberal2

    In a more recent article by Greenwald, written after I’d finished the above post, Greenwald went so far as to say that he wouldn’t actively defend 100% of the claims made by Hussain: http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2013/apr/03/sam-harris-muslim-animus . If that’s as close as Greenwald is going to come to counteracting the spread of misinformation he’s helped engender, then I remain unimpressed.

  • Robby Bensinger said on April 3, 2013 at 6:41 pm

    Murtaza,

    Thank you for the response! As I mentioned early in my post, I don’t object as a matter of principle to the project of trying to psychoanalyze public figures, much less to the project of historically and culturally contextualizing their statements. I think some of Harris’ choice of rhetoric, at a bare minimum, is genuinely problematic, precisely because (even if only unintentionally) it parallels demonstrable instances of bigotry, both historical and contemporary.

    But I think this project of trying to psychoanalyze or contextualize Harris needs to be carried out much more carefully. A clearer distinction between what he’s overtly saying and what you think he’s implicitly suggesting or assuming would be a very good start. This would keep readers from mistakenly thinking that Harris is an avowed genocidal fascist, would make it a lot easier for critics to distinguish the interpretation you’re advocating from the uncontested data, and would accordingly make it a lot easier to evaluate the fit between the two without just taking your word for it.

  • Christopher Bingham said on April 3, 2013 at 6:41 pm

    Ahmed – As far I remember, Harris most routinely quoted The Pew Trust survey on religion. From what you wrote, it doesn’t look like you are quoting the same sources. In any event, even quoting your source, 32 percent of British Muslims think killing in the name of religion is at least sometimes justified.

    Both Hedges and Greenwald are usually better than this. Besinger is spot on.

  • Murtaza Hussain said on April 3, 2013 at 6:42 pm

    I’ll add as well, that the point of the post is not “Sam Harris is racist”. Indeed, as he accurately noted, he has a black Muslim friend. The point is that he conciously lends his scientific expertise to the legitimation of racist policies. He is also an avowed partisan and not a neutral, disinterested observer to these issues. .He is not speaking in terms of pure abstraction, and he is not as a scientist immune from the pull of ideology (as the racist pseudoscientists I compared him with illustrate). Perhaps you feel his prescriptions are sound, one way or another he is making them in the real world and not as a thought exercise.

  • John Sobieski said on April 3, 2013 at 6:49 pm

    You wrote all that for what – to skip the elephant in the room. Islam is the problem for Sam Harris, and that doesn’t fit the liberal agenda. Perhaps Harris should do some research on dhimmis and dhimmitude and he could learn his place!

  • Edward said on April 3, 2013 at 6:52 pm

    The flagrant misinformation by Hussain and subsequent endorsement by Greenwald call into question their capacity for intellectual honesty and rigorous rationality.

    This actually makes me question whether I agreed with their prior work simply because I didn’t actual understand those issues. Whereas, when it comes to Harris, I have studied his work and thus can easily spot Hussain’s erroneous conclusions. This makes me uneasy. No doubt confirmation bias has played a role in my easy acceptance of their previous articles.

  • Phil said on April 3, 2013 at 7:01 pm

    Ahmed

    I’m sorry , you will have to explain those figures again
    32 % Said KILLING was justified!
    1 % isnt even acceptable in 2013 not acceptable in ANY circumstances
    And before you quote “Religion under attack” that is NOT Country under attack”
    Drawing Cartoons falls under “Religion under attack”
    The only thing under attack is reason

    You as a Muslim should be concerned about this , but your first reaction is to Deny and try and flip the facts over

    Its not nice or an easy feeling to think this is the mindset of fellow Muslims , but poll after poll continues to detail this.

    Figures below if you need to re ref;

    40 per cent support the introduction of sharia into British law for Muslims
    a third back the notion of a worldwide Islamic caliphate (state) based on sharia law

    40 per feel it is unacceptable for Muslim men and women to mix freely

    24 per cent do not think men and women are equal in the eyes of Allah

    a quarter have little or no respect for homosexuals.

    Although 53 per cent said that killing in the name of religion was never justified, compared with 94 per cent of non-Muslims,
    32 per cent said that it was.
    Of these, 4 per cent said killing could be justified to “promote or preserve” religion, while 28 per cent said it was acceptable if that religion were under attack.

  • JD Phillips said on April 3, 2013 at 7:01 pm

    100% agree with you on this. Anybody with any critical thinking skill can look at both sides of this debate and see that one side is being consistently inflammatory, misleading and dishonest. In fact the quote mining and slanted insults are so obvious in Greenwald’s piece, I half wonder if spurring this controversy does’t contain some agenda for Greenwald or his employer. It is insulting.

  • David Fuchs said on April 3, 2013 at 7:03 pm

    @Jeff. You say that Greenwald doesn’t stand behind the piece, But he tweeted his support.

    Robby, on the other hand, is a responsible writer. He defended Sam–but he pointed out that he’s not necessarily standing behind all of Sam’s opinions.

    Robby, Glenn linked to his debate w/ Matt Cockerill on Matt’s FB. Then, please look at Glenn’s FB. Glenn & Sam could not debate, they have no common ground so they talked past each other. But he & Matt had a great debate. (Matt is a good thinker, like you.) On Glenn’s FB, he & his friends show you the REAL reason he hates Sam. Those Communists have one thing on their minds–Corporations.

  • Bubrub said on April 3, 2013 at 7:08 pm

    @Ahmed

    You said “In other words, the majority of Muslims are AGAINST killing in the name of Islam at all costs. Funny how Harris does not mention this.” First of all, we are talking about British Muslims polled, not all Muslims. Second, He DOES mention this. When he says that “A third of young British Muslims say they want to live under Sharia Law and think that anyone who leaves the faith should be put to death.” there is an obvious implication that 2/3 are AGAINST it. Does he really need to take the time to spell out: “by the way, mathematical logic tells us that 2/3 do not believe it!”

    Sharia Law recognizes the absurd concept of apostasy. A quick look at wikipedia reveals:
    “According to some scholars, if a Muslim consciously and without coercion declares their rejection of Islam and does not change their mind after the time allocated by a judge for research, then the penalty for male apostates is death, and for women life imprisonment.”

    So when 40% of British Muslims “support the introduction of Sharia into British law for Muslims” – Sam Harris is actually being generous in only saying 1/3 (1/3 being less than 40%). Since Sharia Law upholds severe punishments (like death) for those that leave the faith…it logically follows that the 40% who believe in Sharia Law also believe in the tenets of Sharia Law which includes punishment (like death) for apostates.

    And the fact that you equate attacking religion with attacking a country is rather unacceptable. I can’t believe you are trying to put a positive spin on the fact that 32% of a polled population think that killing in the name of religion IS justified. Is that an acceptable level of terrible people? On the other hand, we have 94% of non-Muslims polled who believe that killing in the name of religion is never justified, Now I AM worried about the 6%…but a lot more worried about the whopping 32%.

  • Bubrub said on April 3, 2013 at 7:26 pm

    Murtaza,

    You are right. Sam Harris is not a” neutral, disinterested observer to these issues.” I would be suspicious of any human being that IS neutral and disinterested when writing about the topics that Sam chooses to write and speak about. Should be he “neutral” and “disinterested” about suffering, hate, and ignorance? Is it so terrible that he doesn’t subscribe to moral relativism? Should he look at the mass oppression of women, indoctrination of children, and persecution of “apostates” and “infidels” with a “neutral” and “disinterested” lens? And by the way, he rightfully shits all over Christian fanatics as well.

    I am glad that Sam Harris is not a “neutral” and “disinterested” robot.

    You, Murtaza, are a pseudo-intellectual. You didn’t even take the time to fully understand Sam Harris before slandering him. You disagreed with points that you purposefully took out of context. I’m not just accusing you of purposefully cherry-picking quotes, there is concrete proof of this. It is revolting. Please resign.

  • David Fuchs said on April 3, 2013 at 7:33 pm

    If you read it, you’ll see that Glenn was explicit, “I don’t spend time sitting around & thinking about Islam.”

    @T Morgan, “Glenn has an axe to grind.”
    Yes, his lifetime project is to fight the “corporations.” And never to “fight poor people.” He CANNOT insult the “poor” bigots who stone gays.

    Robby, after Glenn gave Hussain aid & comfort, he said, “If you have a problem w/ Hussain, take it up w/ him!”

  • Don Gillette said on April 3, 2013 at 7:33 pm

    An excellent, well-researched analysis. I got the feeling that the reactions of Hussain, Greenwald, and Al Jazeera was knee-jerk but their lack of response (especially a lack of apology) suggests otherwise.

  • Fred M said on April 3, 2013 at 7:47 pm

    Ahmed,

    You wrote to the author: “You also state that Harris stated:
    A third of young British Muslims say they want to live under sharia law and think that anyone who leaves the faith should be put to death.
    This is a complete lie.
    What the survey actually said was:”

    In your zeal to attack Harris, you got the wrong survey. There is indeed a survey showing that about a third of British Muslims think apostates should be put to death and who think sharia law should be implemented in Britain.

    “The following is a list of laws that are defined in most scholarly interpretations of sharia law. Please say if you personally agree or disagree with the law mentioned”

    “That Muslim conversion is forbidden and punishable by death.” Agree 31%, disagree 57%, don’t know/ refused 12%.

    http://www.policyexchange.org.uk/assets/Living_Apart_Together_text.pdf

    More from the same survey of British Muslims:

    “That homosexuality is wrong and should be illegal.” 61% agree, 30% disagree, 9% don’t know/ refused.

    “That a Muslim woman may not marry a non-Muslim.” 51% Agree, 43% disagree, 5% don’t know/refused.

    - 59% of Muslims would prefer to live under British law, compared to 28% who would prefer to live under sharia law, 13% don’t know/ refused.

    There is more.

  • bill said on April 3, 2013 at 7:50 pm

    Honestly how can anyone be surprised by the “arguments” made by adults who subscribe to make-believe in search of comfort? All religion is belief in fabrication and therefore relies on further fabrication to support itself. Lies need more lies to substantiate themselves. This is hardly new.

  • John said on April 3, 2013 at 7:55 pm

    Excellent breakdown. I think Murtaza’s comments on this post just go to show how self assured he is of his own interpretation of others’ actions and words. It bothers me that someone could write such a vitriolic article based on his own conjecture and assumption; it outright disturbs me that someone could state it as though such interpretations were factual.

  • Fred M said on April 3, 2013 at 8:03 pm

    Murtaza Hussain Says:
    April 3rd, 2013 at 6:42 PM
    “I’ll add as well, that the point of the post is not “Sam Harris is racist”.”

    In that case, we (you as writer, me as reader) are having a failure to communicate. The overall impression I got from your article was that you are accusing Harris of a form of racism, and I suspect the purpose of this is to make an example of Harris so as to discourage others from criticizing Islam. But I could be wrong: You can easily falsify my suggestion by citing the name of one non-Muslim critic of Islam who you consider to be overall fair and reasonable in those criticisms. Looking forward to your response!

  • Benham Ignacio said on April 3, 2013 at 8:13 pm

    I appreciate the convictions of Ahmed and Murtaza (as well as their rhetorical skills….genuine fodder for critical thinking.) But in the end Sam Harris’ convincing and unwavering (if uncomfortably and inconveniently controversial) assertions, supported by Robby’s CONSIDERABLE intellectual prowess, trump the competing views of Hussain, Greenwald, Ahmed and Murtaza.

  • Jason said on April 3, 2013 at 8:23 pm

    Well this is what happends when an idiot (Greenwald) tries to justifiy his finger pointing. This will not be accepted by anyone who has read or listened to Harris on these very issues. KUDOS to you Robby Bensinger for pointing out that which is obvious to some of us and help those who may not understand the difference of what is said and what is ment. I sometimes find I have to listen to Harris more then once to truely grasp the meaning of his statements!!!

  • KG Bailess said on April 3, 2013 at 8:23 pm

    Bubrub and JD Phillips nail this (as do several others). Thanks for a great site here.

  • Nick Halme said on April 3, 2013 at 8:41 pm

    I think it’s telling that Hussain’s comments here appear much, much less inflammatory than his article. Hrm. Could the article have been baiting controversy?

    Hussain spends an entire first page (I read this on Alternet) explaining phrenology and racism to the reader, and writes: “At the forefront of this modern scientific racism have been those prominently known as the ‘new atheist’ scientists and philosophers.”

    Hrm. Could it be that the author is attempting to call Harris a genocidal racist?

    On my third scan through the article, I can still not find anything to back up the claim that Sam Harris considers Islamic believers to be a race of people, or to be identified with any group of people based on the colour of their skin. Words in Harris’ mouth.

    I cannot honestly detect a trace of what I would consider journalism in the article in question – I’m surprised it was published (albeit published by blogs).

    It seems to me, Mr. Hussain, that your article is either an unabashed attempt at character assassination, or that, as evidenced by the above analysis here, you completely misunderstand the stance which you seek to oppose.

    Seems very similar to Harris’ conflicts with Chris Hedges – in which Hedges continually misquotes Harris and attempts to show that he is a genocidal racist.

  • Murtaza Hussain said on April 3, 2013 at 9:18 pm

    @Fred_M I recommend you look into P.Z. Myers and Chris Stedman amongst a plethora of others who criticize Islam without ruminating on the necessity of bombing and torturing Muslims out of existence.

  • Rusty said on April 3, 2013 at 9:22 pm

    Robby,

    Thank you for this. Sam’s work is perpetually being perverted and caricatured, rather than accurately criticized. No matter how many times I see this phenomenon, I continue to find it perplexing, as there are quite enough points in Sam’s message to criticize honestly without resorting to inflammatory distortion.

    Keeping up with it all the attempts at misrepresentation has become tedious for me; I can’t imagine how abysmal it must be for Sam. Your post here is encouraging for all the right reasons.

    -Rusty

  • Juliet said on April 3, 2013 at 9:34 pm

    I am a Catholic Atheist. I have been inching my way out of faith for several years. Murtaza Hussain, Glenn Greenwald, and Al Jazeera have all convinced me to come all the way out of the closet as an atheist and humanist. I see, now, that there is great value in standing tall to be counted. Criticism is always welcome but deliberate abuse of the truth is unacceptable. I don’t always agree with Sam Harris but his commitment to honest and rational conversation is worth defending.

  • Joshua Lord said on April 3, 2013 at 9:47 pm

    Thank you for this much needed exposition of the flagrant misrepresentation of Sam’s views unfortunately promulgated by so many of his opponents and so well encapsulated within the lamentable article to which you respond!

  • Jesse Markus said on April 3, 2013 at 9:55 pm

    @ Murtaza Hussain – Robby writes this entire piece about you misquoting and misrepresenting Sam’s views, and then you imply that he ruminates on the necessity of bombing and torturing Muslims out of existence? Robby and Sam have chosen their words very carefully, with precision and nuance, and here you continue to make slanderous and dishonest accusations that Sam thinks Muslims need to be bombed and tortured into oblivion. Your glib tactics evoke Bill O’Reilly, and you have even less journalistic integrity than he does.

  • Jack Melamed said on April 3, 2013 at 10:00 pm

    Excellent work.

  • Murtaza Hussain said on April 3, 2013 at 10:22 pm

    Finally, your argument proceeds from the false premise that I am psychoanalyzing Harris and leads you to arrive at several erroneous conclusions. I literally could not care less about what Harris feels in his heart of hearts about anyone – what I care about are the political debates he injects his malice in to. If he empirically disproved the existence of God tomorrow I would laud him for his fine work in the pursuit of truth, but I will absolutely never acquiesce to his attempts to give intellectual cover to the torture proponents and neoconservative warmongers of the past decade.

    Politics is my field, science is his field, and I would not make dangerously ignorant comments about neuroscience. He on the other hand feels little compulsion about doing the same politically and using his authority as a scientist and philosopher to justify the actions of those who would commit (and *have committed*) the most utterly heinous acts in recent memory.

    I couldn’t care less about his atheist advocacy, I couldn’t care less if he blasphemed a million Quran’s, what I care about is policies of torture and murder not being once again granted a veneer of scientific protection

  • Fred M said on April 3, 2013 at 10:23 pm

    Murtaza,

    Does Stedman criticize Islam? What in the Qur’an, for example, does he criticize? I do know that he is critical of Harris, Dawkins, and others, accusing them of Islamophobia. I will check him out and see what he says. I’m familiar with PZ; he doesn’t know much about Islam, I think about all he’s done is make a “free speech” statement by putting some pages of the Qur’an, along with some items from other religions, in a garbage can. Not much of a substantive critique. Perhaps he has other more substantive criticisms that I haven’t read yet. But I will grant you this: you at least cited at least one example, PZ. I’m not sure about Stedman, but your citing of PZ does seem to come close to what I was asking, so thanks. (Maybe I should have asked for more!)

    Re Harris on bombing and torture, as Robbie pointed out, Harris is not claiming Muslims in particular should be tortured. Harris is arguing that there are some circumstances such as the ticking time bomb scenario in which is it justified to torture a terrorist–who could be any kind of person–in order to extract information to save thousands of innocent lives. Likewise, Harris is not arguing that Muslims in particular should be bombed. One may argue the merits or lack of merits of these views, but the claim that Harris is suggesting that only Muslims be tortured or bombed is not correct. Harris and Dawkins advocate open critical discussion, argument, education, and so on, to change minds, not to eliminate Muslims by bombing them.

    That said, the Qur’an instructs Muslims to use torture in the form of punishment in 5:33, see execution, crucifixion, or cutting off the hand and foot on opposite sides, real-world torture to be followed up in a threatened afterlife punishment of torture in the fires of hell (5:33-37; also described in hundreds of other verses). I would also consider the prescribed amputation of the thief’s hand to be a form of torture (5:38), and the prescribed whipping of 100 lashes to be delivered “without mercy” to those males and females judged guilty of sex outside marriage (24:2) seems like torture, as does the 80 stripes for those who commit “slander” (24:4).

    Your thoughts on these policies in the Qur’an?

    Re wiping people out of existence by killing. The Qur’an also states that Allah has wiped out whole populations of disbelievers who were deemed guilty of disbelief or the expression thereof (6:6, 6:45, 7:72, 7:84, 7:91, 7:136, 17:17, 10:13, 11:102, 19:72-75, 19:98; 7:4, 17:16, 21:6, 18:59, 28:58, 46:27, 15:4), and disbelief is considered the worst crime according to the Qur’an (10:17, 32:22, 18:57, etc.). Then in the Qur’an “Allah” commands that Muslims wage warfare against the non-Muslims (9:5, 9:14, 9:29, 9:123, 8:60), until they submit to Islamic terms of surrender (9:29, 9:6, 8:61) and all religion is “for Allah” (2:193, 8:39). That sounds like wiping out and subjugating the non-Muslims if they do not agree to follow Islamic rules (as dhimmis) or convert to Islam.

    Your thoughts on these policies in the Qur’an?

  • Murtaza Hussain said on April 3, 2013 at 10:32 pm

    I’ve offered my commentary on your points – in the interests of respecting free debate I’d ask you to publish them as an addendum.

  • Bill said on April 3, 2013 at 10:45 pm

    Good work…

  • Fred M said on April 3, 2013 at 10:48 pm

    Why?

    Do you reject the policy, which entails torture, of whipping fornicators with 100 stripes “without mercy”, or not?

    Do you reject the policy of waging war against non-Muslims and imposing Islamic rules and conditions upon them, or not?

    Easy questions.

  • Eleanor said on April 3, 2013 at 10:58 pm

    To Ahmed on your 1/3 of British Muslims comment:

    Respectfully, I must point out that state and religion here are not one and the same thing or reducible to similarly acceptable levels of military force. We are not talking about the ideology of Democracy versus Theocracy or religious ideals being protected or promoted by the fallout of war. You are conflating these two territorial, tribal, and blood boiling human desires/failings as worthy of the same understanding, allowance, and fervor. They’re not.

    It is indeed more reasonable to say that until the nation-state becomes a thing of the past (e.g. European and African Unions, NGOs and other third party check and balance systems, the Star Trek imagined future of world governance etc.), protecting economic and personal freedoms, natural resources and lands, and other basic conditions for managing masses of human beings regardless of creed through a last resort of war is just a necessity. Using brute force or the threat thereof to police, “protect and promote” ideals of a group one must conscript to by sincere individual and personal respect and faith by restricting freedom of expression (state enforced gags or acts of terror against someone as innocuous as a cartoonist) and movement (state enforced curfews or marriage tribunals that take into account whether the woman seeking a divorce is ovulating at the time of her petition in a nation that has had a Constitution and Common Law system longer than most Western societies), and major and casual loss of life in the case of war, planes crashing into buildings, or subways being bombed, until a majority of out-group members are in fear or manipulated enough to at least profess allegiance is by no means a necessary evil.

    Even if a majority of Muslims or Christians or anyone else feel it is a moral torch to take up to kill in the name of their beliefs if under attack, their beliefs are for all intents and purposes inconsequential to everyone that lives under a given state–they don’t manage borders, environmental protection agencies, human rights organizations, healthcare providers, or drinkable water commissions. We can all collectively agree that we prefer not to be poisoned every time we’ll twist the tap for a glass of water. We cannot all collectively agree and presume it a minority right to wage war for presumed moral offenses. So this argument can’t be granted the emotional sway and status of: “well if it means that much to you and oil means that much to us, see how the motivations are equal?”

    Okay, so a third of British Muslim students polled did say they wanted to live under Sharia law or some variation thereof but highlighted was not the fact that few of those planned on resorting to killing to achieve that end and majority felt it was unacceptable to do so entirely. Fine. The question remains: is there very real threat, from this sub-sect of a religious population or any other (and please note that the wealthiest and most stacked militia in the world is run by the world’s most war-faring, blood and country abiding, Christians), or isn’t there? And, have these wars been/will they be fought to protect people and the material goods that keep them alive or do they have the potential to threaten or destroy these things for a transcendental goal that may have no measurable affect on the quality of these lives in the now? If the latter, anyone thinking it’s justifiable is too many people thinking so.

    What one would do “if a religion is under attack” is not at all the same as what one would or should if “a nation [(here mentioned, if America,) were] under attack.”

  • Odie said on April 3, 2013 at 10:58 pm

    Very well written. Well done.

  • gothen said on April 3, 2013 at 11:09 pm

    How do you expect to dismantle Greenwald by dismantling the work of a different author? That’s not even good sleight of hand. Greenwald wrote his own piece and made different points, even disagreeing with Hussain.

  • Bubrub said on April 3, 2013 at 11:24 pm

    Murtaza,

    You say that you don’t care what is in Sam’s “heart of hearts” and then you go ahead and ASSUME you know exactly what IS in his “heart of hearts” – that his writings are only attempts to give intellectual cover to neoconservate warmongers (as opposed to the ethical/philosophical discussions that they certainly appear to be).

    If “torture proponents and neoconservative warmongers of the past decade” twist Sam’s writings for their own ends, the full blame rests on their shoulders. Sam Harris is not some secret, sinister tool for the right-wing conspiracy. Apparently, if someone writes something that you disagree with, they must be a secret neoconservative. I say secret because, if you were more familiar with Sam’s work, you would know that he is highly critical of such people on a variety of points.

    Are you honestly going to say that Sam Harris is “ruminating on the necessity of bombing and torturing Muslims out of existence”? Come on now, this is not the Al Jazeera readership. Please understand the material that you would like to refute, and then do so with honesty and integrity.

    Oh, and just to clarify, both science AND philosophy are Sam’s fields (not just science). He graduated from Stanford with a BA in Philosophy. You may not make “dangerously ignorant comments” about neuroscience (to my knowledge), but you certainly have no qualms about making such in the realm of ethics!

  • Kevin said on April 3, 2013 at 11:41 pm

    I urge you not to publish anything from Murtaza. No addendum. No nothing. It’s your blog, but the man doesn’t deserve it, he hasn’t engaged any of your criticisms seriously (or anyone else’s). He’s flippant, dismissive, arrogant, rude, and most importantly: he’s generally not interested in honestly characterizing Sam Harris (he’s admitted as much on this blog). This type of person belongs at the margins of our attention.

    Look no further than the most recent disgraceful comment as evidence why this man should simply disappear. After this entire back and forth, he writes: “I recommend you look into P.Z. Myers and Chris Stedman amongst a plethora of others who criticize Islam without ruminating on the necessity of bombing and torturing Muslims out of existence.”

    I mean, what a joke.

  • hamid gul said on April 4, 2013 at 12:13 am

    Thank you for this rebuttal to the very insidious attack on Harris.

  • Caleb Powell said on April 4, 2013 at 12:37 am

    I agree. It’s the first time I’ve heard of Greenwald, and his screed makes the Guardian seem tabloid in nature…okay, that may be hyperbole, but it’s very poorly argued.

  • Doug said on April 4, 2013 at 12:46 am

    In the interest of “free debate” has Murtaza published an addendum of Harris’s reply to his own erroneous and outright dishonest piece?

  • Lee said on April 4, 2013 at 12:52 am

    Murtaza,

    You’re getting schooled here, brother. If you can find the strength to humble yourself and acknowledge your mistakes, you will emerge a wiser person.

  • ten said on April 4, 2013 at 1:34 am

    this is apologetics at its most apologetic.
    sam harris says we’re at war with islam, but that’s not the same as in open ended conflict with muslims?
    you are performing mental yoga here! ie it’s a stretch.
    harris only theoretically says a benevolent dictator would be beneficial in some cases?
    you call hussain’s words a transparent lie and then take five points to actually confirm them. the dictators wouldn’t be permanent! hahahahahahah. seriously?

    this is ludicrous. honestly. the first place on earth where civilian populations were arially bombed was in iraq. to secure oil fields for the english. we have been systematically undermining any progress that has been made in the muslim world, juch the same as we have in subsaharan africa because destabilized states mean we can put who we want in power in return for cut rate resources.
    even in sam harris doesn’t realize that the agenda he is pushing is part and parcel with american economic expansionism and the disenfranchisement of the people of the world, it is.
    it doesn’t matter what is in his heart of hearts. he may be completely ignorant of what he is endorsing. he may be high on the fact that people listen to his opinion. regardless, the agenda he is pushing is murder for profit.
    whether he is personally racist or not, the point of view he propagates and normalizes is.

    way to miss he point and be a bunch of fanboys.
    well. on to the next one.

  • ten said on April 4, 2013 at 1:36 am

    *much
    *even if

    touchscreen!

  • Daniel said on April 4, 2013 at 2:20 am

    If Murtaza publishes an addendum of this article under his own piece, which he will do if he cares about free debate, then (and only then) I think his request to have his response published under this piece should honored.

  • Zach Sears said on April 4, 2013 at 2:31 am

    This posting doesn’t really debate the main issue of Sam Harris and other “new atheists” views on the Islamic world which is that they view it as the great evil that is threatening the ‘stability’ of the modern civilized world. He overlooks the fact that the largest purveyor of violence in the world is the US government and has been over the 20th century, and instead focuses in on Islam (Harris doesn’t exclude other religions of criticism… obviously…) as being a seemingly fundamental wrong in the world. I wouldn’t credit the “muslim civilizations” as being the civilization that is also committing ecological suicide by simultaneously depleting fossilized energy sources when those same energy sources are causing climate change that left unchecked will leave significant problems from lower grain yields to a general disintegration of earth’s physical and ecological systems. The fact that Harris takes so much time to rationalize torture under certain conditions, or any other thought exercise about how the US would have to respond to the threat to our existence should an Islamic country or leader obtain a nuclear weapon; when the US president is authorizing strikes on anyone he deems a threat even when they don’t know the identities of those they are going to kill via signature strikes, we should all concede that he is grossly overstating the threat Islam or any religion poses in the world while searching for justifications for ethically questionable policies in play at the time of his writing.

    As Glenn Greenwald published today, there is no reality to some of what Harris supposes Muslims believe. The overwhelming majority of muslims condemned the attacks against the US on Sep. 11th 2001. In the US the support for the war in Iraq remained high from a point of 79% of US citizens thinking the Iraq war was justified till years after the conflict when public opinion began to shift. This action to destroy a secular regime was responsible for the deaths of thousands or even hundreds of thousands of civilian Iraqi’s while leaving behind 1,000 to 2,000 metric tons of depleted uranium that will still be affecting the health of the nation for years to come. Yet still US citizens supported it en mass. How can anyone be so delusional to even entertain with any seriousness the idea that Islam poses such a threat to the western or civilized world when the US itself is the greatest purveyor of violence and injustice the world has to offer? Yet Harris thinks that “torture may be an ethical necessity in our war on terror,” and that “we should profile Muslims, or anyone who looks like he or she could conceivably be Muslim, and we should be honest about it.”

    Also for anyone who thinks that this is an attack on Harris rather than his professed political ideas on how to deal with Islam needs to step back and consider that a critique of someone’s ideas or philosophies are what inform us and rational debate should always be encouraged. Harris in my own opinion has gotten behind some very ethically suspect ideas such as profiling muslims and supposing that torture is ethical when dealing with muslims while at the same time failing to realize that the greatest threat to civilization comes not from Islam or really any religion but his cherished western industrial civilization that has been practicing hegemonic control over the world and its resources through economic and often violent military actions while simultaneously waging a war against the ecological systems of the earth. As someone who respects much of Harris’ work I have to say that I completely disagree with his oversensitivity to the threat the Muslim religion has in the real world though admittedly it has many problems and evils within its beliefs.

    I would encourage anyone to read Glenn Greenwald’s post from earlier today on Harris, the New Atheists, and anti Muslim animus. It makes these refutations of Hussain’s work seem unimportant and missing the point entirely as Harris is way over the top in his criticism of Islam while at the same time he seems to fail to understand that our supposedly secular nation is committing many of the most evil deeds on earth and instead justifies actions like torture as an ethical necessity in our war on terror.

  • Fred M said on April 4, 2013 at 2:59 am

    Following up on Murtaza’s suggestion to read PZ Myers, on the basis that PZ is a reasonable and fair critic of Islam, here is what I found in an Apr 3 2013 blog post PZ wrote about the exchange between Greenwald and Harris:

    “…But it’s true. Atheists don’t like Islam. We also don’t like Catholicism, Episcopalianism, or whatever jelly-like dribble Karen Armstrong is peddling today. But I would still say that Islam as a religion is nastier and more barbaric than, say, Anglicanism. The Anglicans do not have as a point of doctrine that it is commendable to order the execution of writers or webcomic artists, nor that a reasonable punishment for adultery is to stone the woman to death. That is not islamophobia: that is recognizing the primitive and cruel realities of a particularly vile religion, in the same way that we can condemn Catholicism for its evil policies towards women and its sheltering of pedophile priests. We can place various cults on a relatively objective scale of repugnance for their attitudes towards human rights, education, equality, honesty, etc., and on civil liberties, you know, that stuff we liberals are supposed to care about, Islam as a whole is damnably bad.”

    http://freethoughtblogs.com/pharyngula/2013/04/03/both-wrong-both-right/

    PZ then goes on to agree with Greenwald on some points, such as in regards to Harris’ alleged lack of concern for civilian casualties. While I don’t agree with PZ’s characterizations of Harris’ (or Hitchens’) views on civilian casualties and the war on terror, PZ himself has some reasonable ideas.

    On Islam, PZ sums up his views: “I despise Islam as much as Harris does, and as much as Hitchens did. Where we differ is that I categoricaly reject any militaristic solution…”

    In light of PZ comments above though, I have my doubts that Murtaza would consider him a reasonable and fair critic of Islam, since PZ himself agrees with Harris about Islam, and Murtaza thinks Harris is unreasonable and unfair, in the extreme, about Islam.

    This leaves Stedman, the interfaith atheist, who thinks Harris is Islamophobic, and who as far as I’m aware doesn’t actually criticize Islam.

  • Calvin said on April 4, 2013 at 4:05 am

    “Harris confronted Greenwald, pointing out that the article was simply not accurate.”

    Harris did absolutely nothing more than *assert* that it was not accurate, and say that it was beneath him to respond to. So all Harris really did was express annoyance and Greenwald. Why is that supposed to make Greenwald retract one iota of anything?

  • Lyle said on April 4, 2013 at 4:43 am

    Face!

  • Luis Dias said on April 4, 2013 at 7:12 am

    Do not bring PZ to this forum, please. The guy’s an internet troll. Only trolls would bring him up.

    Who the hell bring him up?

    OH, it was Hussein. Now I understand.

  • Joe said on April 4, 2013 at 8:08 am

    A few points regarding historical context:
    1. The failures of nation states of the Middle East and Africa cannot be blamed on European Imperialism. It was their failure to govern which led to their weakened positions leading to subjugation by outside forces. Imperialism was and is morally reprehensible. But, the imperialist nations have changed with the times, slowly to be sure, but change they have. Can we say the same about the internal governance of former colonies? Has there been an advancement in human rights in the former colonies?
    2. Why are those who have moved to the West for whatever reason now wanting to import that which they abandoned? This may sound like an ad hominem attack, but it is not. “Western” culture and Liberalism have resulted in the current conditions which attract so many millions of foreigners to their shores, and those of different cultures and religions cannot demand the the new home conform to old rules. For good or ill, what the “West” has produced cannot be cherry-picked: “Freedom of Speech is good until it insults my sensibilities” is not going to make for a good community and civil conversation.
    3. Atheism was around a long time before the “threat of Islam.” To even discuss Mr. Harris’s views as an Atheist in the context of Islamophobia is simply wrong. We “scientific Atheists” are children of the Enlightenment (remember: enemies of the Holy Roman Church) not of 9/11. His views on how liberal democracies must respond to the recent spate of acts of terrorism, and questioning how and where such “ideologies” are formed is distinctly separate from his Atheism.

    So, let’s see if we can formulate this debate as one between “Enlightenment” views and “Superstition.”

  • Hugo said on April 4, 2013 at 8:13 am

    You poor, poor sod. You really mean this, don’t you?

    “my past experience with both Greenwald and Al Jazeera has generally been very positive. So I was stunned to find the article in question packed with misinformation and outright libel.”

    You really sound as though you’re surprised. Well, welcome to the real world. This isn’t anything unusual, or strange. It’s the norm. People like Greenwald are like this. This sort of smearing and distortion is what he does.

    Now, I suggest the following. What have you _really_ learned from Greenwald? Have you really never heard this sort of tone from him before? How sure are you now that he was being honest then, as he emphatically is not being now?

  • jack smith said on April 4, 2013 at 8:22 am

    Of course Harris is only interested in torturing Muslims. Why pretend otherwise? Harris has advocated the use of torture in the War on Terror:

    “I am one of the few people I know of who has argued in print that torture may be an ethical necessity in our war on terror” (In Defence of Torture)

    However, to Harris this is not really a war on terror, but a war on Islam.

    “It is time we admitted that we are not at war with terrorism. We are at war with Islam.” (Harris, Bombing Our Illusions, 2005)

    Harris is only interested in ‘counter terrorism’ measures against Muslims. In fact, in the aftermath of the Norway shootings by Breivik, Harris seemed annoyed at the possibility that focus on security threats may divert away from Muslims:

    “we are bound to hear a lot of deluded talk about the dangers of Islamophobia and about the need to address the threat of “terrorism” in purely generic terms,” (Christian Terrorism and Islamophobia).

    Do you honestly think Harris would be consistent and support things like the kidnap and torture of US diplomats by Iranian secret service to determine which civil nuclear reactors they are planning to strike and thereby save untold lives? Of course he wouldn’t.

  • Ahmed said on April 4, 2013 at 8:23 am

    @FredM,
    All that has been answered by liberal Muslims already. I think you have been reading too much Jihad Watch and TROP, and just regurgitating what you have read there.

    @Phil,
    Your hypocrisy is showing when you say “Drawing Cartoons falls under “Religion under attack””. Says who? How do you know the people responding who said killing in the name of your religion when it is under attack feel that drawing cartoons falls under “religion under attack”? You don’t, for all you know, those individuals could consider wars when Muslim countries are invaded as being “religion under attack”, and then there justification for killing isn’t very different from the likes of Sam Harris, is it?
    When I was young, I used to admire atheists, because I always felt, unlike religious people, atheists were always honest, and never put spin on anything and always fought their arguments with facts and honesty, but the likes of you and Sam Harris makes it clear that atheists are really no different to religious people. in that you get a lot of hypocrites who will bend and put spin on things just to propagate their beliefs.

    @Christopher,
    Yes, you’re right. I stand corrected. I did notice that The Pew Trust did not provide any figures on who they sampled, and exactly what the question was, so I have emailed them asking them to provide this information.

  • Ahmed said on April 4, 2013 at 8:27 am

    I see no one has still responded to my post about this quote from Hariis.

    Sam Harris: “In our dealings with the Muslim world, we must acknowledge that Muslims have not found anything of substance to say against the actions of the September 11 hijackers, apart from the ubiquitous canard that they were really Jews.”

    Considering polls show that most Muslims were against 9/11, and considering many many Muslims organisations wrote articles on how wrong the 9/11 attacks were, are the Harris defenders going to acknowledge that Harris is being completely dishonest in the above quote. Or are they going to continue to worship him as if he is some sort of God?

  • Ahmed said on April 4, 2013 at 8:37 am

    Why has Sam Harris never spoken on the evils of Buddhism?

    http://www.loonwatch.com/2012/07/warrior-monks-the-untold-story-of-buddhist-violence-i/

    From the article linked, it is clear that Buddhist doctrine has advocated violence and the killing of non-believers. So is Sam Harris going to speak of the evils of Buddhism, or is he going to defend it by saying other sects of Buddhism do not believe in this? If so, is he also going to defend Islam by looking at the many non-violent and liberal groups it has, or is he only going to concentrate on the extreme, conservative part of Islam?

    Considering Muslims are being persecuted by Buddhists in Burma

    http://www.voanews.com/content/muslims-vanish-as-buddhist-attacks-approach-burma-biggest-city/1631625.html

    and in Sri Lanka

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-21840600

    surely it is now time for Sam Harris to start speaking out against Buddhism. He does however have a soft spot for it, and Harris himself is not really an atheist, so I won’t be holding my breath. His legion of supporters however will not call him out on this, because, to them he is some sort of Messiah worthy of worship!

  • Science Fiend said on April 4, 2013 at 8:50 am

    Amazing post! Well articulated and hit the nail on the head with every point! Glad Harris put up a link to this!

  • Eugene said on April 4, 2013 at 8:56 am

    @Ahmed,

    You wrote:
    “Although 53 per cent said that killing in the name of religion was never justified (…)
    In other words, the majority of Muslims are AGAINST killing in the name of Islam at all costs.”

    As if you think that’s a good thing. Do you?

    Because I think any number lower than 100%, especially one as low as 53%, is a BAD thing.
    (That goes for all ideology-based killing, obviously.)

  • Ahmed said on April 4, 2013 at 9:02 am

    PZ Myers: “…But it’s true. Atheists don’t like Islam. We also don’t like Catholicism, Episcopalianism, or whatever jelly-like dribble Karen Armstrong is peddling today. But I would still say that Islam as a religion is nastier and more barbaric than, say, Anglicanism. The Anglicans do not have as a point of doctrine that it is commendable to order the execution of writers or webcomic artists, nor that a reasonable punishment for adultery is to stone the woman to death.”

    Karen Armstrong has studied Islam in much more detail than PZ Myers, and Myers feels threatened by this fact (as his knowledge of Islam is very limited to what he has read about the religion from websites that are hostile to Islam), hence his attempt to slur her.

    The sad thing today is that atheists, who were once meant to be very honourable and honest, are now displaying the traits of religious fanatics – that is, bending the truth, cherry-picking the nasty bits of religion and ignoring the good bits, and instead of looking at all the facts and then coming to a conclusion, they first form the conclusion, and then try and bend the facts around it – hardly the stuff of intellectuals.

    I remember a few years back I was reading the biography of Muhammad on one of the secular websites. What I found amusing was that the website had pulled the biography that had been written by an Evangelical Christian. This is a prime example of the hypocrisy of the New Atheists – they would never trust what an Evangelical Christian has to say, unless, it is about Islam! Surely if the New Atheists are an honest bunch, they would put a biography of Muhammad that is from a neutral point of view, and not choose one written by an Evangelical Christian – that’s a bit like asking a Nazi to write about Jews!

  • Valerie Tarico said on April 4, 2013 at 9:08 am

    I want to comment on the term Islamophobia, which is used routinely to delegitimize fear of Islam and stigmatize those who criticize Islamic belief. Fear that is grounded in evidence and reason is not phobia. To my mind, those who do not fear the power of religion to trigger violence are not paying attention to human history and psychology.

    Belief matters. Vast sectors of our society–psychologists like me for example, and marketing and human relations professionals–spend their lives and other people’s money operating on the premise that belief drives behavior and that belief revision changes behavior. Likewise, it is accepted as given that communication and social influence shape belief. Similarly, those who support the role of religion in society argue that the sanctification of certain attitudes and behaviors has the power to change an adherent’s priorities for the better. There is absolutely no reason to assume that the same process cannot increase the likelihood of violence or misogyny.

    To fear the power of religion is simple prudence. And to acknowledge that not all religions are created equal when it comes to sanctification and disinhibition of violence is simple honesty.

  • Ahmed said on April 4, 2013 at 9:49 am

    @Valerie,

    “I want to comment on the term Islamophobia, which is used routinely to delegitimize fear of Islam and stigmatize those who criticize Islamic belief.”

    No, that is not Islamophobia. No one says one cannot have legitimate, rational fears of how Islamic extremism might cause trouble. Islamophobia focuses on the IRRATIONAL fears – for example, the myth that Obama is a Muslim Brotherhood member who has infiltrated the White House to try and impose Shariah Law. Or the fear that the Muslim birthrates are so high that soon Muslims will outnumber non-Muslims in Europe.

    We saw similar unfounded fears about Catholics and Jews before, and we’re seeing them now about Muslims.

    “To fear the power of religion is simple prudence. And to acknowledge that not all religions are created equal when it comes to sanctification and disinhibition of violence is simple honesty.”

    What is honesty is the recognition that religion is not monolithic, that there are varying interpretations of it, and that current events can greatly influence how people interpret a religion. Take Sikhism for example, it was not long ago that Sikhs were committing terrorism, that they blew up an airliner that killed more than 300 people, that they assassinated a Prime Minister of a country. Why? Because they felt they were being persecuted. Harris has gone on record saying you will not stay awake at night worrying about Jains, like you would about Muslims. Whist it is true that Jainism places great emphasis on non-violence, the religion does allow the killing of people who are trying to harm you. Now if there were 1.6 billion Jains in the world and 4 million Muslims, and if Muslims had never been attacked by America and if Jains had, then I can bet my last dollar that Muslims would largely be living in their own little world and that Jains would be attacking the West. After all, Jainism theology does believe that people can be evil, to the degree that the religion states that people can spend up to a billion years in Hell suffering great torment. Therefore, it is very easy to see that Jains could see Americans as being evil, and attack them.

    But Harris does not want you to see this, because Harris flirted with eastern religions and still has a soft place for them. That is why Harris completely ignores context, because if he didn’t, then it can be shown that the religions he likes, can also be very violent, as this article on Buddhism shows.

    http://www.loonwatch.com/2012/07/warrior-monks-the-untold-story-of-buddhist-violence-i/

    And THAT, is what I call dishonesty.

  • Steven said on April 4, 2013 at 10:09 am

    Ahmed, that are fundamentally different things you are talking about. You are pointing out, that many (the majority) of muslims in the world condemn the 9/11 attack. I am not sure, if I should take all their words for true as diplomacy is a pretty deceitful business not only when you are in conversation with the middle east but also between two european countries, politicians could lie in each others faces. It is a dirty business. But lets concede for a moment, they were sincere about condemning the attacks. What Sam wanted to point out there (as far as I can recall that quote), was that afterwards no Middle Eastern country nor any intellectual or politician came up with really good reasons why these 19 pious men did what they did and what role certain beliefs might play in their actions. It is kind of similar to point [4] from Robby’s response here. It is a very confusing dancing around the subject, what many liberals and moderate muslims tend to do, and that is disheartening, as it forecloses the possibility of really doing something productive about the issue. But as long as people believe that the “homo oeconimicus” really exists (which doesn’t as psychology shows), people will always look for politics and economics and not what people might really believe and what they care about. Yes, politics and econimcs do matter a lot, but they’re definetely not sole causes and maybe in many cases not even significant causes…

    @ten

    If muslim equals Islam in your argument, then by hating fascism my only reasonable answer to that, would be killing or imprisoning all Neonazis in my country. Couldn’t I just educate them? Reason with them, discussing their beliefs or ridicule them to make them at least a bad example for others? Couldn’t I just implement an education system and society which minimizes the chance that people pick such beliefs up? Why is an ideological war for you equal to a real violence? That is outright crazy. By this kind of reasoning, you should kill all the climate change deniers in the US instead of reasoning/debating with them and showing evidence and so on. Why is it so, that the only way for liberals in the US of winning such a debate is by physically harming the other or assuming there is only that way? It is actually pretty weird as they show in their own behaviour that there are actually other ways without violence. But they seem to assume that only they are capable of that and every other person endoarses violence. How petty.

    @Zach

    Your assumption is that the main failure of the “New Atheists” is them seeing Islam as a greater threat than other Religions is a kind of double standard. If you make an experiment you use always the same standards and don’t change from subject to subject. So you can always retrace your outcomes to the same sources and correlate them. So you could say that in chemical reaction for instance the reagent A reacts in a larger amount to C than when you try the reaction with B to C. If you apply this same logic on different religions you of course have to see different effects these different ideologies must have on the minds of people. And Islam has certain beliefs that are nowadays still taught which are for more dangerous than the nowadays taught beliefs of other Religions. That is the claim we make. Let us take for instance the poll somewhere up there in of the comments. 53% of the muslims in the poll think killing in the name of religion is not justified. Well you could say that at least more than half of the muslims think that this is a terrible idea and be happy, but comparing it to the percentage of non-muslims who think it is not justified (94%), these 53% are a lousy number. And thinking that a third of the muslim world (420 million people if this poll is representative for the whole muslim community) agrees with killing attackers of religion, is quite frightening. Actually, if we would see those results by christians in the US or Europe, we would be terrified and would be calling those people out for being barbaric und uncivilized. So what you are actually asking for is not an equal treatment rather an an extra soft treatment to some quite belligerent ideologies.
    Yet I do concede that those two topics you raise about torture and profiling are very controversial topics. Sadly I have the feeling that many people misunderstood both topics. I personally don’t think that torture in the confrontation with Terrorism and how to minimize and prevent it is a solution. But just for the reason that it just doesn’t work as it has been proven. If it would work and I knew for sure that by interrogating and torturing the suspect I could eventually save thousands of lives I would be in an extreme ethical problem not torturing this person as I would confront my self ultimately with the death of so many innocent people. This is a highly hypothetical situation and 99,9% of the worlds population will not ever be in such a situation but it has a great impact on society. I guess you have to divide Sam’s digressions in hypothetical situations as a philosopher from his real suggestions in politics. He merely points out the frontiers of some of our ethics. You can’t apply our day to day ethics one to one in situations such extreme as stated and we should be aware of that. That is why he says “May be” not “Should be”…
    The second thing is about profiling. Well I have some sort of a problem with this interpretation of “racial profiling”. If I had the training of a policeman and would be day to day on the streets and had to look out for crimes and to see if everything goes allright, well then it would eventually effect my behaviour in other situations as well. So beliefs, professions etc. arise for objective testing in our behaviour. When you’re sad you might try to hide, but people still see it and come up to you asking, if you’re allright or try to calm you down, when you’re angry and so on. So you can theoretically do behavioural profiling and that was Sam’s point. That many people see muslim = race is in itself kind of racist, but that is beside the point. The point where I would disagree with Sam is that, it would be too costly to train airport security and just wasting highly qualified profilers at the airport instead of using profilers in the FBI to look out for terrorist threats before the guy actually gets to the airport. Airport security should be the last method in preventing a person to get into a plane not the sole method. That is where i would put critique to Sam’s argument there.

  • Michael Lopresto said on April 4, 2013 at 10:12 am

    @Ahmed Regarding the September 11 quote, there are two things that call for explanation: the widespread prevalence of anti-Semitic 9/11 conspiracy theories, and strong anti-Western sentiment that colours peoples’ judgment of 9/11.

    Regarding criticism of Karen Armstrong, isn’t she a non-literalist about god: “God is not a being”. In this case, Armstrong’s fiercest critics ought to be Muslims and not atheists.

  • Dan said on April 4, 2013 at 10:19 am

    Did you just reference Loonwatch? Oh please.

  • Ahmed said on April 4, 2013 at 10:23 am

    Robby wrote:
    “No. Harris was not citing fascists approvingly. (Good grief!) He was criticizing liberals for getting a moral issue wrong that is so obvious (in his view) that even some fascists — or, as Harris also calls them in the same passage, “lunatics” — have figured it out. If I half-jokingly noted ‘Even Hitler saw that vegetarianism was a good idea,’ I would not be citing Hitler approvingly; I would be suggesting that the sanity waterline is very low indeed.”

    Robby, that is a complete lie. Harris does not call the fascists lunatics. Harris calls the Religious Right in America lunatics, not the fascists in Europe.

    The quote from Harris about the fascists is:

    “The same failure of liberalism is evident in Western Europe, where the dogma of multiculturalism has left a secular Europe very slow to address the looming problem of religious extremism among its immigrants. The people who speak most sensibly about the threat that Islam poses to Europe are actually fascists.
    To say that this does not bode well for liberalism is an understatement: It does not bode well for the future of civilization.”

    But the fascists do not speak sensibly about the threat Islam poses to Europe. Does Breivik speak sensibly about the Islamic threat? Do the fascists who lie that Muslims are committing mass rape in Norway talk sensibly about the Islamic threat to Europe?

    http://www.islamophobia-watch.com/islamophobia-watch/2011/12/24/how-islamophobes-lie-about-rapes-in-oslo.html

    Do the fascists who lie that Europe will have a majority of Muslims in a few generations talk sensibly about the threat of Islam in Europe?

    No, no and no. And that is why Harris has been called out on this.

  • Victoria said on April 4, 2013 at 10:42 am

    Ahmed: If you want guidance on what constitutes an attack against the Islamic Religion, look to “Reliance of the Traveller,” a manual of Shariah law, translated into English and approved by various Islamic groups, including the International Institute of Islamic Thought in Washington, D.C., and Al-Azhar University in Cairo.

    Death for apostacy is considered a necessary punishment if the apostacy is public, because that is considered treason i.e., an attack against the body of Islam. As you say, it is similar to an attack against a nation-state. If I, as an American, steal secrets from my government and give it to the Israelis, I am committing treason. If a Muslim takes information about his religion and uses it to weaken Islam, he also is committing treason. He is “attacking his religion.”

    In Reliance of the Traveler in section o8 (Justice), there is a list of “Acts that Entail Leaving Islam.” They include: saying Allah doesn’t exist, denying any Koranic verse or disagreeing with Islamic scholars, being sarcastic about Allah, or saying anything negative about Muhammad. All of these are considered treasonous and attacks against Islam. (why else would they merit death?)

    The rules for non-Muslims under the Shariah need to be read and fully digested. Although o11 (further Justice in RT) deals with non-Muslims in Muslim lands, it is no stretch to think that the Muslims anywhere might be influenced by this Islamic jurisprudence. For example, non-Muslims are righteously protected from harm by Muslims as long as they are faithful to the Shariah rules governing them. Otherwise they are subject to penalties, including death. One of these rules is not to mention anything impermissible about Allah or Muhammad.

    Under this very abbreviated survey of Islamic law, you should recognize that Harris and almost everyone on this website, would stand guilty of attacking Islam. Just because you don’t believe that doesn’t negate authoritative Islamic texts and scholars.

    Buy Reliance of the Traveler on Amazon. Very enlightening and entertaining. Some of the laws are hilarious and highlight the backwardness of Islam. Check out i1.18 (Fasting). A day’s fasting has to be redone if you use a suppository or happen to get stabbed. Ha!

  • nikto said on April 4, 2013 at 10:43 am

    Well, I hope Murtaza is enjoying his 15 minutes…

  • Ziggy4949 said on April 4, 2013 at 10:47 am

    Part of what seems to be getting lost in the discussion is that it’s really not what is written in the scripture of ANY religion, or what fanatics of those religions say or believe, but what is being done by which nation to other nations. Where the actual threat, not the verbal and hyperbolic threat, poses for all countries. In this regard, the US is far ahead of any other at spreading destruction whereever it perceives the need.

  • Megan Waight said on April 4, 2013 at 10:53 am

    This is an excellent debate for the most part, and there are many things I could say but I will restrict myself to a ‘hear, hear’ for Valerie Tarico, who has eloquently expressed my view, and to a question for Ahmed: why should I consider the ‘good bits’ of a point of view before rejecting it on the grounds of its ‘nasty bits’? Are you saying that harmful practices and ideals are somehow mitigated by beneficial ones? I’m afraid I can’t follow your logic, if this is the case.

  • Ahmed said on April 4, 2013 at 10:57 am

    “What Sam wanted to point out there (as far as I can recall that quote), was that afterwards no Middle Eastern country nor any intellectual or politician came up with really good reasons why these 19 pious men did what they did and what role certain beliefs might play in their actions.”

    Complete and utter nonsense. Many people, Muslims and non-Muslims alike, came out with reasons why they think these attacks happened.

    No Middle Eastern government suggested that the Jews were involved. Even Iran, Hamas and Hezbollah offered their condolences to the victims. Yes, amongst Muslim populations, there were people who thought the Jews were involved, but this is not an Islamic thing, because there are many conspiracy theorists in the West who also think there was Jewish involvement.

    Harris’s quote is an outright lie, yet sadly, you still have to defend him – such is the level of your brainwashing.

  • Supergirl said on April 4, 2013 at 10:59 am

    Ahmed,
    You claim SH is lying when he states “A third of young British Muslims say they want to live under sharia law and think that anyone who leaves the faith should be put to death.”
    And supports your argument with an article, which has the headline – Killing for religion is justified, say third of Muslim students.
    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/religion/2461830/Killing-for-religion-is-justified-say-third-of-Muslim-students.html
    The article contains the following:
    - a third back the notion of a worldwide Islamic caliphate (state) based on sharia law
    - 32 per cent said that killing in the name of religion was justified
    - 40 per cent support the introduction of sharia into British law for Muslims
    - three-fifths of Federation of Student Islamic Societies members said that killing in the name of religion was acceptable
    According to the article you quoted, SH is not lying, as you claim, about a 1/3 saying they want to live under sharia law and think that anyone who leaves the faith should be put to death. From the statement it also implies that 2/3 are opposed to or uncertain about killing in the name of religion. Still no dishonesty. He may not place attention where you prefer it to be, but that is simply your problem.
    You furthermore claim that the majority of Muslims are against killing in the name of religion. In politics a majority or most is 67%, not 53%.

    It is clear that you did not read the entire article that you use to support your claim that SH is lying. (Which ironically exposes your hypocrisy.) The YouGov poll was conducted for the Centre for Social Cohesion. Osama Saeed labeled the CSC as a stink tank. The poll is not invalid, but the error margin may affect the results to be slanted towards a desired (in this case negative) outcome.

    Not getting attention you then claim that polls show that most Muslims were against 9/11.
    An Arab source, should make you comfortable http://www.alarabiya.net/articles/2011/09/10/166274.html
    - 36% of Arabs polled by Al Arabiya saying the 9/11 attacks were morally justified,
    - 38% disagreeing and
    - 26% of those polled being unsure.
    A 2008 study, produced by Gallup, found similar results with 38.6% of Muslims questioned believing the 9/11 attacks were at least somewhat justified. (Source http://www.gallup.com/press/104206/who-speaks-islam.aspx)
    I reiterate – A majority or most is 67%, not 38%.

  • Ahmed said on April 4, 2013 at 11:02 am

    @Victoria,

    I am glad you bought up apostasy and The Reliance of the Traveller. Find below a link (written by an atheists) which makes a mockery of your claim that because the Reliance of the Traveller says something, it is actually part of contemporary or orthodox Islamic teachings.

    http://www.loonwatch.com/2009/09/apostasy/

  • Ahmed said on April 4, 2013 at 11:06 am

    “Dan Says:
    April 4th, 2013 at 10:19 AM

    Did you just reference Loonwatch? Oh please.”

    A perfect example of ad hominem – when you’re unable to argue intellectually, you try and attack the other person.

    If you find that the loonwatch article that I referenced contains anything that is wrong, then point it out, and we can debate that. What seems quite likely to me to be the case is that because you have no intellectual argument to rebutt the article I quoted, you’re simply resorting to ad hominem.

  • Ahmed said on April 4, 2013 at 11:11 am

    @Eugene

    I wrote:
    “Although 53 per cent said that killing in the name of religion was never justified (…)
    In other words, the majority of Muslims are AGAINST killing in the name of Islam at all costs.”

    And you wrote: “As if you think that’s a good thing. Do you?”

    Not really. But how many percentage of Americans are against killing in the name of their values at all costs? Seems less than 47% to me, considering the majority of Americans were at first supportive of the Iraq War. As for Sam Harris, he believes in killing in the name of his secular beliefs.

  • Robby Bensinger said on April 4, 2013 at 11:15 am

    Supergirl: It’s true that some political decisions in some parts of the world require a two-thirds supermajority. But I don’t think it was unclear that Ahmed was using ‘majority’ in the simple mathematical sense of ‘more than half of the set’. Since these are opinion polls and not some sort of parliamentary vote, I don’t see a problem with that, as long as we’re all on the same page.

    Murtaza: I wasn’t sure how else to contact you, so I sent you a message on Facebook. It should be hidden in the ‘Other’ section of your messages.

  • Fred M said on April 4, 2013 at 11:41 am

    Ahmed,

    You write:

    “@FredM,
    All that has been answered by liberal Muslims already.”

    All of what? I asked Murtaza whether he supported a policy that involves torture when it is commanded by the Qur’an, like in 24:2 where the Muslim God Allah orders Muslims to whip those who have sex outside of marriage with 100 stripes delivered “without mercy.” Murtaza then promptly disappeared.

    Same question to you: Do you reject the Qur’an’s policy of torture, or not?

    I then asked Murtaza whether he supported a policy of wiping out and subjugating people when it is commanded by the Qur’an (9:29, 9:123, etc., see other cited verses above).

    Same question to you: Do you reject the Qur’an’s policy of waging war against non-Muslims and imposing Islamic rules and conditions upon them, or not?

    Easy questions.

  • Jim said on April 4, 2013 at 11:47 am

    Hi Ahmed. You ask for a response to this quote from Harris: “In our dealings with the Muslim world, we must acknowledge that Muslims have not found anything of substance to say against the actions of the September 11 hijackers, apart from the ubiquitous canard that they were really Jews.” And you mention poll data and Muslim organizations who wrote against the 9-11 attacks. And then you suggest that we must choose between calling Harris completely dishonest and worshiping him as some sort of God. (Yes, we all see what you did there.)

    First, the poll data is alarming, some polls showing over 1/3 felt 9-11 was morally justified. (Find links to polls here http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Reactions_to_the_September_11_attacks#Islamic_world) But to the main point, I don’t think Harris is saying that no one or few in the Muslim world condemned the attacks or wrote that they were wrong. He is saying they had nothing of substance to say. (I’m reminded of the Onion’s Jackie Harvey article ‘Hitler Was Wrong!’.)

    Please provide us with more than claims about 9-11 being wrong (tragic, a crime, cowardly, etc.). I’m willing to accept that there are prominent Muslims with something of substance to say about 9-11. I just don’t yet know what that is. Granted, whether something is of substance threatens to descend into semantics, but hopefully you can link us to something that gives some kind of analysis, explanation, or thoughtful account–one that goes beyond saying that it was a bad thing, and preferably also that it doesn’t represent all Muslims (which is also a no-brainer). I am honestly interested.

    Finally, when did Harris write this?

  • Ahmed said on April 4, 2013 at 11:50 am

    @Supergirl,

    You wrote: “According to the article you quoted, SH is not lying, as you claim, about a 1/3 saying they want to live under sharia law and think that anyone who leaves the faith should be put to death.”

    Actually, you’re wrong, because a third of the people from that survey did not say that anyone who leaves Islam should be put to death. They instead said that killing in the name of Islam can be justified. “Killing in the name of Islam” is rather ambiguous, it can mean killing to protect Muslims, which is not very different from what Sam Harris believes, in that he believes in killing to protect Western secular values. For you to say that “killing in the name of Islam” equates to killing apostates shows serious intellectual dishonesty on your part.

    That said, if you actually read my later posts, I apologised, and said I had made a mistake when I said SH was lying. As Christopher wrote to me, I was getting muddled up between two differing surveys, and once I realised this, I acknowledged my mistake. For a second survey DOES show that around a third of young British Muslims do justify killing apostates. However, this survey does not provide any data on who was questioned, how, and what the exact question was, and so I have written to the organisation that conducted it, to provide this information.

    As for your claim that:

    “- 36% of Arabs polled by Al Arabiya saying the 9/11 attacks were morally justified,
    - 38% disagreeing and
    - 26% of those polled being unsure.”

    Well, Sam Harris believes it is morally justifiable to kill civilians if the need arises. He has clearly stated that whilst nuking a Muslim country would be an unthinkable crime, as “it would kill tens of millions of innocent civilians in a single day”, he still says it might be the only option, and thus morally justifiable.
    So, why do you have such a problem when 36% of Arabs said 9/11 was morally justifiable. Maybe they thought it was justifiable because it would in the long-term cause America to be less aggressive, and change their foreign policy? Why can Sam Harris morally justify the killing of tens of millions of Muslim civilians, and you have no problem with it, yet when an Arab justifies the killing of three thousand American civilians, you get all upset?

    Finally, here is a HUGE survey that was undertaken by Gallup, where they questioned more than 50,000 Muslims.

    http://afp.google.com/article/ALeqM5iZlsZRgzHmgwj6sKpA7PR5F5Ecsw

    As you can see, the survey states “It shows that the overwhelming majority of Muslims condemned the attacks against the United States on September 11, 2001 and other subsequent terrorist attacks, the authors of the study said in Washington”.

    Here is another survey, that was conducted in America by Gallup.

    http://www.rawstory.com/rs/2011/08/03/poll-muslims-atheists-most-likely-to-reject-violence/

    In this survey, 78% of American Muslims say the killing of civilians is never justified, compared to 46% of atheists and 39& of Christians.

    Of course, people like you will just dismiss this poll, and say “the Muslims are lying and deep down they really justify it”. In other words, when something suits your agenda, you take it as face value, but when it goes against what you want to believe, then you start questioning the validity of it. That, is what makes the New Atheists such hypocrites.

  • Ahmed said on April 4, 2013 at 11:58 am

    @FredM,

    I am assuming Murtaza is quite a busy person, and he does not have time to answer questions that you have just gotten from Jihad Watch, TROP, or some other anti-Islamic website that presents a biased view.

    Anyway, if you really want to find out more about 9:29, go and read

    http://www.loonwatch.com/2010/05/do-muslims-want-to-reimpose-dhimmitude-or-live-as-equals/

    and then come back to me, and then we can talk.

  • Fred M said on April 4, 2013 at 12:00 pm

    Robby, I meant to say, very well done. I’ve read Harris’ books the End of Faith and Letter to a Christian Nation, and have read many of his articles over the years, and I continue to be frustrated at just how often he is misunderstood, or I suspect more often, intentionally misconstrued. Sam is an academic and is usually tied up with books and other projects, so he doesn’t often have time to respond to misrepresentations. Thanks for setting the record straight.

  • Ahmed said on April 4, 2013 at 12:02 pm

    Robby,

    Are you going to correct your incorrect statement that Harris was referring to the European fascists as lunatics?

  • Steven said on April 4, 2013 at 12:05 pm

    I think it is not helpful in your argument to call us all brainwashed but for the sake of the argument I am only once eager to prove to you that you just failed to convince me. I might be wrong about the part, that no one in the Middle East brought up some good Points in regards to finding out how it came that 19 men thought flying at full speed with a plane in a building is a good idea. So if there are such arguments I have missed out and you suggest there are some then name me at least one and let it better be the best of those. Then we can talk about it. Before that you are the one who is just spouting nonsense and might yourself just be brainwashed. Calling me that is just a mere bait and switch. Try something better please.

    Also you misconstrue the reason why Americans supported the Iraq War quite a bit. US Citizens still traumatized by 9/11 have been told the lie that Iraq had WMDs and wanted to use them against the US. As people found out about that, the support for going into Iraq decreased. (Not as much as you could hope but still…) But it is not like in the US people got told Iraq insulted christianity and therefore we had to invade Iraq. Yet you are trying to make that argument. That is silly. You can absolutely criticize the Bush government for their lying to the public. You can criticize people for being still ignorant about the fact that they were duped into a war based on false premises. That is absolutely okay but implying Americans would go into war for insulting Christianity ist plainly dishonest.

  • Ahmed said on April 4, 2013 at 12:07 pm

    “Sam is an academic and is usually tied up with books and other projects” – just because you’re an academic, it doesn’t mean you’re an intellectual. I am all for criticism of Islam and other religions, but Harris does such a poor job, with a lot of his arguments based on hyperboles and starw-men arguments. I often think this is because of his dishonesty, but the more I read of Harris, the more convinced I am becoming that this might actually be due to a lack of intellect that stops him from arguing his case logically.

  • Ahmed said on April 4, 2013 at 12:14 pm

    “That is absolutely okay but implying Americans would go into war for insulting Christianity ist plainly dishonest.”

    But I never said that. So you’re using a straw-man argument. And are being … DISHONEST!

    And who said that the 19 men who flew planes “at full speed” into buildings did so because someone criticised Islam? (BTW, I love the way how you throw in “at full speed” to try and dramatise the act). I don’t know why they flew the planes into the buildings, I have never seen any interviews from them, but if I had to guess, I would say it was probably because they saw successive American governments prop up terrible, oppressive dictatorships in their countries, and that they saw successive American governments give billions in military aid to Israel, a nation that has broken numerous UN Resolutions and still continues to build on occupied land, but as I said, this is just my guess. You however seem to know why they did it (because Islam was insulted), so maybe you can provide us with a link or two to back up your claim?

  • Fred M said on April 4, 2013 at 12:15 pm

    Ahmed,

    He doesn’t “have time” to answer questions pertaining to the issue of his moral consistency in rejecting torture and the wiping out and subjugating of whole populations, when these objectionable practices are commanded in the Qur’an, which Harris criticizes?

    Why are you so preoccupied with partisan websites with extreme political agendas, and what does any of this have to do with my questions? The questions are easy, and you should be able to answer them no problem. I therefore look forward to your honest straightforward replies, starting with your responses to those questions.

  • Fred M said on April 4, 2013 at 12:21 pm

    And Steven, “You can absolutely criticize the Bush government for their lying to the public.”

    …and the U.S. media too. While media in other places like Canada and the U.K. were reporting that the case for attacking Iraq was wildly trumped up, most of the U.S. mainstream media was onboard with the gov’t propaganda.

  • Ahmed said on April 4, 2013 at 12:25 pm

    I am not occupied with partisan websites with extreme political agendas. Loonwatch is a website that is critical of all religions, including Islam.

    The most ironic thing about your post is that YOU seem to be the one who is preoccupied with partisan websites with extreme political agendas. From everything you have posted thus far, it seems quite evident that all your knowledge of Islam has come from a select few websites.

    You’re asking me for a debate, why should I debate you when you have a very biased view on a topic? I wouldn’t debate with a Creationist who has never studied evolution – why? Because it is not worth my time, the Creationist would just be regurgitating all the nonsense he has been brainwashed with regarding Creationism, and so there will be no “debate” happening. Similarly, why should I debate with you when you’re not willing to go and read an article I have directed you to which kinda makes a mockery of some of your claims. If you really are sincere in having a debate, then I suggest you go and read that article, and come back to me with specific questions about Islamic theology, and then we can have a debate. And FYI, that article is written by someone who is on record as stating he is an atheist.

  • Sunil Narayan said on April 4, 2013 at 12:31 pm

    Thoughtful, diligent, objective. Bravo.

  • Steven said on April 4, 2013 at 12:36 pm

    “But how many percentage of Americans are against killing in the name of their values at all costs? Seems less than 47% to me, considering the majority of Americans were at first supportive of the Iraq War.”

    Implying what? Tsss…. Capslock won’t help you out this time.

    And no I don’t think they did it over a cartoon or anything like that. It could be possible that someone would do such a heinous thing over a cartoon as people have been murdered for expressing their opinion in regards to Islam. And no I reject you’re idea because of oppression they killed thousands of innocent people. Especially because even if their background was that they came from opressed countries many of them lived and studied a long time in Germany living in relative freedom and wealth.
    Also you do again a bait and switch. I asked you for the ideas of these intellectuals as I was curious. I really might be wrong, yet you instead ask me now for my claims (where I never even have brought one up). When you try such rhetorics, could you at least make them less obvious?

    @Fred

    True. That is why most european countries and Canada objected to that war. Good you mentioned that.

  • Fred M said on April 4, 2013 at 12:47 pm

    Ahmed,

    I’m only interested in your responses to those questions. I’ve studied the Qur’an; that’s how I began my study of Islam, which led to a reading of the Muslim commentaries, portions of the Hadith (mainly those relevant to the treatment of non-Muslims, women, and homosexuals), the Sira, Islamic law, Islamic history, and the current beliefs and practices of Muslims around the world today. I think I have a pretty good handle on the data. Once you answer my two easy questions, I’ll gladly answer, to the best of my knowledge, any questions you may have about Islam and Muslims’ beliefs.

  • Ahmed said on April 4, 2013 at 12:55 pm

    @Steven,

    “And no I don’t think they did it over a cartoon or anything like that”

    Well, your initial post suggested it, but I am willing to stand corrected.

    “And no I reject you’re idea because of oppression they killed thousands of innocent people. Especially because even if their background was that they came from opressed countries many of them lived and studied a long time in Germany living in relative freedom and wealth.”

    That is an absurd argument. You’re trying to suggest that just because someone is not from a poor background, they cannot be against the oppression of their fellow people. That is completely nonsensical.

    “Also you do again a bait and switch. I asked you for the ideas of these intellectuals as I was curious.”

    I have no idea what you’re on about here. I expressed why I think these men might have done what they did, but as I said, at the end of the day, in the absence of any interviews or statements from these men, I don’t really know what their motivation was. How is saying one doesn’t knowing the answer to something the equivalent of “bait and switch”?

  • Victoria said on April 4, 2013 at 12:58 pm

    Ahmed, My goodness, sir, how lazy you are in your responses. I bother to write a coherent answer to your disingenuous query about what 1/3 of British Muslims might consider to be an “attack on Islam” and you want to discredit my source by pasting a link.

    I went to said link and found a tiresome essay on the topic of apostacy and whether modern-day Muslims should agree with the traditional Islamic punishment of death for apostacy. The fact remains that death is the traditional and accepted Islamic punishment for apostacy and blasphemy against Islam. The only thing that should concern non-Muslims is, as the article states, “Contemporary Muslims believe that they are free to agree or disagree with the words of classical scholars. There is no equivalent to the pope in Islam.”

    Even if 1/3 of modern-day Muslims still agree with the words of classical scholars that is disturbing. As for you trying to devalue “The Reliance of the Traveller,” why bother? The article quotes Al-Azhar University as the highest authoritative body in the Islamic world. Yes, the article states that al-Azhar issued a fatwa in the 50s disallowing the punishment of death by apostacy. But the same institution in 1991 said that RT “conforms to the practice and faith of the orthodox Sunni community.” (Sounds like a contradiction but that is al-Azhar’s failing, not mine.)

    More telling, the RT does NOT translate the classical teachings on slavery because (the translator states) that it is no longer necessary for Muslims to know this. It’s printed in the Arabic, but left untranslated for the modern, non-Arabic speaking Muslim. The sections on jihad, blasphemy, a father’s right to marry off his virgin daughters without their verbal consent, are all cheerfully brought before the modern gaze.

    RT also brings in modern voices from the four Islamic schools, in case of conflict. These are not old opinions but rather new ones. Readers can see that some modern Muslim jurists opine that wives must cook and clean for their husbands and others opine they only owe their husbands sexual access to their bodies. It’s charming, really, how the modern Islamicjurist stands up for women’s rights.

    If you bother to respond, please do so in your own words. Take your time. Perhaps you can reread my other post. Or better yet, read Reliance of the Traveler, including all the kudos it gets from your contemporaries. And spare the rest of us the angst of the moderate Muslim who can get only non-Muslims to take his ideas of reform seriously.

  • Ahmed said on April 4, 2013 at 1:00 pm

    @FredM,

    How do you define the studying of the Qur’an? Do you mean you read about it at Jihad Watch? ;)

    The answer to one of your questions is in the link that I have provided you. Once you go and read that link, then you can come back to me, and we can have a debate on it. And then once we have debated that, we can then move onto your second question. That sounds pretty fair to me, I have no idea why you’re so against going and reading the link I provided. I mean, if I wanted to debate someone, and I had a question, and they said the answer can be found at x, I’d be visiting x immediately to read the response to my question. Why you are having difficulty doing this is quite beyond me. (Well, actually, it isn’t, if I was to hedge a bet, I’d day you’re only interested in reading websites that portray Islam in a bad light, and that is why you’re not interested in reading a website that intellectually argues against something you want to believe in).

  • Ahmed said on April 4, 2013 at 1:18 pm

    @Victoria,

    You wrote: “Ahmed, My goodness, sir, how lazy you are in your responses. I bother to write a coherent answer to your disingenuous query about what 1/3 of British Muslims might consider to be an “attack on Islam” and you want to discredit my source by pasting a link.”

    Erm, this is nothing to do with laziness. By your logic, if someone asks for an explanation on say the Special Theory of Relativity, then directing them to a link or book is being “lazy”, and one should instead type out the whole response. What an absurd suggestion.

    I think in reality, the fact you have a problem with me posting a link is that you don’t actually want to read something that might expose flaws in your view of something. The link I posted is written by an atheist, and it argues Islam’s views on apostasy in a very logical and coherent manner. It also shows how absurd your claim is that the Reliance of the Traveller is a book that Muslims follow to the word (for your information, the book is central to the Shafi Fiqh, which is one of four schools of thoughts in Sunni Islam, and scholars from other Fiqhs have disagreed with parts of it). However, you’re not interested in reading the link I provided because you’re afraid that by reading the link, you will find serious flaws in what you have been trying to espouse, and thus you just want to dismiss it. This shows you to be intellectually dishonest – it’s a bit like the religious nutters who want to stop everyone from reading anything that criticise their religion, for fear that people might get a viewpoint that is different to the one they want people to believe.

  • Fred M said on April 4, 2013 at 1:23 pm

    Ahmed,

    Studied the Qur’an in my case means I’ve read it multiple times, consulting multiple translations, and studying the Arabic for some key words, analyzing it, taking notes, thinking about it, reading what others (especially mainstream Muslim tafsirs, which are still used today) say about it. I’m familiar with both Jihadwatch and Loonwatch, which I classified in my opinion as the extreme partisan sites with which you seem to be preoccupied. I asked you to answer my two questions. You refuse to do so, and like Murtaza, attempt to send me on a wild goose chase.

  • Steven said on April 4, 2013 at 1:34 pm

    Of course you can be angry about the wrongdoing going on in your homecountry. Yet how do you come from that to flying a plane into a building. I simply fail to see the trail leading to that conclusion. You have to put more on the table than just that. Otherwise they could build up an alliance, make a website, talk about it on the streets of Hamburg and try to get other people aware of that mischief. Yet killing yourself and thousand other people with you would not be the first thing that should come up in one’s mind if it was just that. So there must be something more.

    “Many people, Muslims and non-Muslims alike, came out with reasons why they think these attacks happened.”

    Maybe I have misunderstood you at that point, but I said earlier that as far as I know there didn’t came out any good reasoning for how people should do such a thing. What where their motivations and how could you out of that prevent something like that to happen again? You answered with above quote and I wanted to know what these experts had to say about this. And until now you missed to deliver here and instead told me to back up claims I didn’t even uphold. That is why a called it a bait and switch. I didn’t make a positive claim about anything.
    There could be a misunderstanding here but it would be a very strange one, I must admit. (On the other side there were people who were far worse… Not so many but some)

  • Ahmed said on April 4, 2013 at 1:45 pm

    @Steven,

    “Of course you can be angry about the wrongdoing going on in your homecountry. Yet how do you come from that to flying a plane into a building. I simply fail to see the trail leading to that conclusion.”

    I don’t know. I never spoke to the hijackers, neither did I ever see them do any interviews. So I really do not know.

    Many people have given varying reasons. Some have said it was meant to be “payback” for all the tens of thousands of Muslim civilians that had been killed in Muslim countries by America and it’s supported dictatorships. Others have said it was to create a full-scale war so that America invades Muslim countries and is then defeated on the battlefield there. Others have said it was to destroy the economy. People like Sam Harris want people to believe that it was not to do with any political grievances, but because these people hate anyone who was not Muslim and they wanted their 72 virgins.

    As I said, no one really knows the answer, and the answer might be a combination of reasons.

  • Zen said on April 4, 2013 at 1:48 pm

    The most easy to assail claim ” Fascists speak most sensibly about islam” is the easiest to dismiss.

    What could sensibly conceivably mean to Sam Harris in the context of Islam , surely all it means is that they are taking a critical view.

    Hussain has openly tweeted that his article has no integrity and is more akin to an “1800 word middle finger to Sam Harris” , does this mean nothing he writes should be taken seriously? That he is a professional troll , that is only criticizing Sam Harris because of his atheist views and prominence in the atheist movement.

  • Jim said on April 4, 2013 at 2:09 pm

    Moderator? Why isn’t my comment posting? It’s been a while and others are getting posted.

  • Ahmed said on April 4, 2013 at 2:17 pm

    Maybe Robby missed my post because there have been so many posts lately, so here goes, again:

    Robby wrote:
    “No. Harris was not citing fascists approvingly. (Good grief!) He was criticizing liberals for getting a moral issue wrong that is so obvious (in his view) that even some fascists — or, as Harris also calls them in the same passage, “lunatics” — have figured it out. If I half-jokingly noted ‘Even Hitler saw that vegetarianism was a good idea,’ I would not be citing Hitler approvingly; I would be suggesting that the sanity waterline is very low indeed.”

    1) Harris did not refer to European Fascists as lunatics. He referred to the Religious Right in America as lunatics.
    2) Your “Even Hitler saw that vegetarianism was a good idea” is a very poor analogy. A better analogy would be if you said “Even Hitler saw that Judaism consider non-Jews as goyim and nothing better than cattle”. Of course, this would rightly cause an uproar, for reasons I am sure you understand very well.

    Harris’s quote was: “The same failure of liberalism is evident in Western Europe, where the dogma of multiculturalism has left a secular Europe very slow to address the looming problem of religious extremism among its immigrants. The people who speak most sensibly about the threat that Islam poses to Europe are actually fascists”.

    But the fact is, the fascists do not speak “most sensibly” about the threat of Islam. Breivik, a fascist, did not speak most sensibly about the threat of Islam. The fascists who lie that the Muslims will outnumber non-Muslims in Europe within 50 years do not speak most sensibly about Islam. The fascists who lie that Muslims are committing mass rapes in Norway do not speak most sensibly about Islam.

    http://www.islamophobia-watch.com/islamophobia-watch/2011/12/24/how-islamophobes-lie-about-rapes-in-oslo.html

    And as Hussain documents, the fascists who talk about making migrants into soap do not talk most sensibly about Islam.

    So, yes, what Harris said is very inflammatory, and even dangerous, considering migrants have been killed by fascists in Europe. The fact you need to go to lengths to try and defend him on this point shows just how biased you are.

  • Victoria said on April 4, 2013 at 2:28 pm

    You’re funny, Ahmed. I said the article was tiresome, and I should know. I read the whole thing! Maybe YOU didn’t. This is how you introduced it:

    “Find below a link (written by an atheists) which makes a mockery of your claim that because the Reliance of the Traveller says something, it is actually part of contemporary or orthodox Islamic teachings.”

    The article you recommend directly contradicts this. It explains that RT is faithful to orthodox Islamic teachings. Did you not get that far? Maybe you only read the first 10 pages.

    What a waste of time, trying to carry on a debate with you.

  • Victoria said on April 4, 2013 at 2:33 pm

    Sorry to feed the trolls. I am glad to see Sam Harris get grief over his stance on Islam, mainly because I think he has enough backbone to withstand the criticism without falling on his sword.

  • Ahmed said on April 4, 2013 at 2:35 pm

    @Victoria,

    ————————————————————————
    You said: “You’re funny, Ahmed. I said the article was tiresome, and I should know. I read the whole thing! Maybe YOU didn’t. This is how you introduced it:

    “Find below a link (written by an atheists) which makes a mockery of your claim that because the Reliance of the Traveller says something, it is actually part of contemporary or orthodox Islamic teachings.”

    The article you recommend directly contradicts this. It explains that RT is faithful to orthodox Islamic teachings. Did you not get that far? Maybe you only read the first 10 pages.

    What a waste of time, trying to carry on a debate with you.”
    ————————————————————————

    Being dishonest again, are we, Victoria?

    If you actually read the article, you would see it states:

    “Reliance of the Traveler, a fourteenth century manual of Islamic jurisprudence, which does say that apostates should be killed. Is it possible to point out the obvious? The text was written hundreds of years ago in the medieval era. The absurdity of using it as some sort of proof against contemporary Muslims is absurd. Muslims do not consider this book to be religiously binding upon them. The words of the classical scholars are not considered a part of the Islamic canon. Only the Quran and some of the Hadiths are said to have any divine origin.

    Contemporary Muslims believe that they are free to agree or disagree with the words of classical scholars. There is no equivalent to the pope in Islam. Yes, they do respect the classical scholars, and do view them as some of the greatest scholars of all time, but that does not mean that they agree with them on all issues. As for “classical texts” like the Reliance of the Traveler, yes many moderate Muslims consider such treatises to be a good source of attaining their Islamic knowledge, but they don’t believe that they must accept every single sentence or dot therein! As the famous Islamic saying goes: they take the good in it, and leave the rest!

    Even within the classical Islamic texts, one can find great disagreement therein. For example, there are classical texts which refute some of the views expressed in the Reliance of the Traveler. If that is the case–that Islamic scholars of that time disagreed with some views within that text and others–why shouldn’t contemporary Islamic scholars–and Muslims in general–disagree with some of its views? Is this really so hard to comprehend? I don’t think so.”

    So, yes, I was right when I said the article states that just because the RotT says something, it does not mean it is part of orthodox Islamic teaching (as classical scholars disagreed with part of it), and it does not mean it is part of contemporary Islamic teachings (because contemporary Muslims disagree with parts of it).

  • Bubrub said on April 4, 2013 at 2:36 pm

    @Ahmed

    To quote you:
    “People like Sam Harris want people to believe that it was not to do with any political grievances, but because these people hate anyone who was not Muslim and they wanted their 72 virgins.
    As I said, no one really knows the answer, and the answer might be a combination of reasons.”

    Do you think Sam Harris pulled that reasoning out of a hat? Perhaps it could be that the Islamist terrorist group al-Qaeda, of which the hijackers belonged, has pushed religious rhetoric? It is not unreasonable to assume that al-Qaeda does indeed believe exactly what it says it believes. At the very least, it is perfectly reasonable to assume that their brand of religion was a rather large contributing factor, even if only used as a tool to convince the grunts of the organization (which is an assumption, they may well believe it throughout the ranks). It would be very difficult indeed to convince a group of people to both commit suicide and intentionally murder a large group of civilians…without a religion that promises a happy afterlife for doing so.

    The fact that you didn’t personally talk to the hijackers is irrelevant. The organization that they belong to (willingly, as evidence shows) was perfectly happy to speak for them. “Some people” this and “some people” that – it’s not like it is a damn secret! We have plenty of Osama bin Laden rhetoric for reference, including his admitting to the attack in 2004 and a video obtained in 2006 that shows bin Laden making preparations for 9/11 with two of the hijackers.

    Were there political reasons as well? Of course. It’s obvious that their politics and religion are so heavily intertwined that to view the hijacker’s actions in a solely political lens is incredibly foolish. Sam Harris recognizes this, as any reasonable person would.

    There is no defensible reason for flying that plane into that building. Had they only targeted military personnel, it would have been more defensible (although I still would have disagreed with it). Has America killed civilians in war? Yes, and those instances should also be criticized.

  • Ahmed said on April 4, 2013 at 2:37 pm

    “Sorry to feed the trolls.”

    Ah, Victoria is resorting to ad hominem, probably because she came on here and blatantly lied and was exposed for it. Such a shame, there used to be a time when I would look up to atheists for their honesty and ability to argue their case using logic and reasoning, these days we have the liked of Sam Harris who have to argue their case using hyperbole and straw-men arguments.

  • Ahmed said on April 4, 2013 at 2:43 pm

    @Bubrub,

    “Do you think Sam Harris pulled that reasoning out of a hat? Perhaps it could be that the Islamist terrorist group al-Qaeda, of which the hijackers belonged, has pushed religious rhetoric?”

    Well, if they wanted 72 virgins for killing non-Muslims, they could simply have driven a car into some pedestrians and then killed themselves – why risk such a large scale operation which had a great risk of failure?

    And, yeah, Sam Harris does pull a lot of things out of the hat. Like his quote that:
    “In our dealings with the Muslim world, we must acknowledge that Muslims have not found anything of substance to say against the actions of the September 11 hijackers, apart from the ubiquitous canard that they were really Jews.”

    This despite the fact, that the majority of Muslims criticised the attacks, that the very conservative Islamic scholar al-Qaradawi called it a heinous act and said Muslims should donate blood to the victims.

  • Ahmed said on April 4, 2013 at 2:45 pm

    “Were there political reasons as well? Of course. It’s obvious that their politics and religion are so heavily intertwined that to view the hijacker’s actions in a solely political lens is incredibly foolish. Sam Harris recognizes this, as any reasonable person would.”

    Actually, he doesn’t. He blames the attacks on their religious beliefs, and not that they might have any political grievances. Unless of course I have missed him saying this – maybe you could direct me to a quote where Sam Harris states that 9/11 was partly due to political grievances?

  • Bubrub said on April 4, 2013 at 2:51 pm

    “Well, if they wanted 72 virgins for killing non-Muslims, they could simply have driven a car into some pedestrians and then killed themselves – why risk such a large scale operation which had a great risk of failure?”

    As I said, their politics are intertwined with their religion. Your example would solve the religious needs, but not the political. Hitting that building served both. I can tell that you are an educated sort, so you should not have required me to type that out.

    In regards to that quote, I would tend to agree that it was a mistake to make his point in that way. His wording there was poor. However, understanding the context of his work, his use of the word “Muslims” there does not literally apply to every single person in the Muslim faith. It perhaps would be a great deal more accurate if he put the word “fanatical” in front of “Muslims”. I don’t want to speak for the man, but I am interpreting it that way and I do believe that is what he meant. Always remember that Sam Harris repeatedly fights for the well-being of Muslim women, children, and gays in the more fanatical parts of the world.

    I think that if you watched more of his speeches and read more of his work, you would find him to be a reasonable dude.

  • Robin Marie said on April 4, 2013 at 2:51 pm

    My overall feeling about this post is that you are a well-meaning, but naive defender of Harris. The fact that you have to go through all these pretty awful quotes of Harris — and you didn’t even tackle all of them — and elaborately explain about how, “Oh!, but he didn’t mean *that*” indicates to me that you don’t really understand how cultural products like Islamophobia and racism work, particularly in our “post-racial” age. Very few people consciously think of themselves as Islamophobic, or racist, or sexist, or what have you; any such category. They justify these deep seated fears and resentments of the Other in a selective reading of history and through a conception of their “opponents” which marks them as somehow fundamentally different from the rest of us — something Harris has gone out of his way over and over again to do with his rhetoric. The fact that he does not come out and explicitly back up the implications of his own words — and when prompted will say things that appear to counter them — is no reason to doubt that they are in fact rooted in very ugly things. In other words, it’s subtle, but only to those who do not know how to catch this, and think if someone simply says they are not x, y, or z, and can come up with elaborate excuses for all the reasons they appear to be x, y, or z, that must mean they are sincerely not z, y, or z. Well, I’m afraid sincerity is not the same thing as accuracy — white people in America also sincerely believed they were not bigoted when they politely explained they would rather not have black people live in their neighborhoods, but I don’t think any of us would now think to excuse them of the adjective.

    What I am getting at, overall, is that your perspective lacks an historical understanding of how prejudice works. The very fact that those opposed to Harris have so much to throw at you, and you’ve had to spend all this time bending over backward trying to convince us that it is not what it seems, should give you some serious pause.

    For some links that elaborate in different ways on what I’ve said here, and my own position on Harris, see the below:

    http://crookedtimber.org/2013/03/11/weird-arguments-about-love-and-marriage/#more-27877 (This makes the point, whose language I stole, that sincerity is not the same thing as accuracy)

    http://anamericanatheist.org/2012/09/26/sam-harris-is-wrong/

  • Bubrub said on April 4, 2013 at 2:53 pm

    “Actually, he doesn’t. He blames the attacks on their religious beliefs, and not that they might have any political grievances. Unless of course I have missed him saying this – maybe you could direct me to a quote where Sam Harris states that 9/11 was partly due to political grievances?”

    I don’t have such a quote off the top of my head, but I will look for this. I’m sure someone could also jump in here if they already know the location of such a quote.

  • CGW said on April 4, 2013 at 3:14 pm

    @Ahmed

    FredM is not asking for a debate on his two questions. He simply asked you to state WHAT YOU BELIEVE with regard to his two questions. Any “article” written on those subjects is completely irrelevant to the discussion. You have studiously avoided responding because you are aware that it would be BLASPHEMY on your part to reject any concept (in this case, the torture of adulterers and the treatment of non-muslims) prescribed by the quran. You try to deflect attention away from your refusal to reject quranic injunctions by pointing to articles containing opinions of others so as not to incriminate yourself.

    Taqiyya and kitman going on here, folks.

    Prove me wrong. State openly whether you approve or eject the two concepts outlined by FredM and delineated specifically by the quran.

  • Ahmed said on April 4, 2013 at 3:17 pm

    “In regards to that quote, I would tend to agree that it was a mistake to make his point in that way. His wording there was poor. However, understanding the context of his work, his use of the word “Muslims” there does not literally apply to every single person in the Muslim faith. It perhaps would be a great deal more accurate if he put the word “fanatical” in front of “Muslims”. I don’t want to speak for the man, but I am interpreting it that way and I do believe that is what he meant.”

    Well the way I interpret it is that he despises Islam so much that he wants to try and bend and twist things in such a way that it looks bad on Islam.

    Now, I have absolutely no problem with someone despising Islam, everyone is entitled to their belief, and everyone has a right to despise any religion or ideology.
    What I do have a problem is when people are dishonest. I don’t think Harris forgot to omit the word fanatical, because fanatical Muslims would not have anything of substance to say about 9/11 anyway. To me it seems very likely that Sam Harris is being disingenuous, that he is wilfully ignoring all the outpouring that came from the Muslim world after the attacks, and is deliberately trying to make it seem that the majority of Muslims condoned the attacks, because this fits in perfectly with his view that we are at war with Islam.

    “Always remember that Sam Harris repeatedly fights for the well-being of Muslim women, children, and gays in the more fanatical parts of the world.”

    Why haven’t we then heard anything from Harris about the violence against Muslims by Buddhists?

    http://www.voanews.com/content/muslims-vanish-as-buddhist-attacks-approach-burma-biggest-city/1631625.html

    and in Sri Lanka

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-21840600

    Could it possibly be because Harris flirted with Eastern religions, and still has a soft spot for them?

    Why has he never spoken out against Buddhism, which condones the killing of non-believers?

    http://www.loonwatch.com/2012/07/warrior-monks-the-untold-story-of-buddhist-violence-i/

    Of course, one could argue that not all Buddhists are like this, but then again, poll after poll has shown that the majority of Muslims also interpret their texts in a liberal fashion.

    “I think that if you watched more of his speeches and read more of his work, you would find him to be a reasonable dude.”

    I have seen quite a lot of him, and in some cases I consider him to be reasonable, and in other cases I find him to be disingenuous. And that is why I have a dislike of the guy, and New Atheists in general like Dawkins, which is a shame, because even though I am a Muslim, my whole life I have looked up to atheists as I believe they play an extremely important part in exposing what is wrong in religion and making religious people take a look at themselves.

  • Ahmed said on April 4, 2013 at 3:50 pm

    @Bubrub,

    I am posting a shortened version of my last post again, as I think it did not go through.

    “However, understanding the context of his work, his use of the word “Muslims” there does not literally apply to every single person in the Muslim faith. It perhaps would be a great deal more accurate if he put the word “fanatical” in front of “Muslims”. I don’t want to speak for the man, but I am interpreting it that way and I do believe that is what he meant. ”

    I disagree. A fanatical Muslim would not have anything of substance to say anyway, so I do not think he accidentally omitted the word. I think he is deliberately trying to make it seem as if the majority of Muslims are supportive of 9/11, as that fits in perfectly with his view of us being at war with Islam.

    “Always remember that Sam Harris repeatedly fights for the well-being of Muslim women, children, and gays in the more fanatical parts of the world.”

    Why then have we heard nothing from him regarding Buddhist violence?

    Considering Muslims are being persecuted by Buddhists in Burma

    http://www.voanews.com/content/muslims-vanish-as-buddhist-attacks-approach-burma-biggest-city/1631625.html

    and in Sri Lanka

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-21840600

    are we going to see Sam Harris come out and speak of the dangers of Buddhism? I’m not going to be holding my breath on this one, because Sam Harris flirted with Eastern religions before, and still has a soft spot for them.

    As I posted earlier:

    http://www.loonwatch.com/2012/07/warrior-monks-the-untold-story-of-buddhist-violence-i/

    From the article linked, it is clear that Buddhist doctrine has advocated violence and the killing of non-believers. So is Sam Harris going to speak of the evils of Buddhism, or is he going to defend it by saying other sects of Buddhism do not believe in this? If so, is he also going to defend Islam by looking at the many non-violent and liberal groups it has, or is he only going to concentrate on the extreme, conservative part of Islam?

    “I think that if you watched more of his speeches and read more of his work, you would find him to be a reasonable dude.”

    Things are not black or white to me. Same with Sam Harris. Some of the things he says are reasonable, and some of the things he says are disingenuous. And it is for the latter reason that I do not really like the guy.

  • John Dickinson said on April 4, 2013 at 3:53 pm

    I’ve tweeted and emailed Glenn Greenwald asking which of Harris’s books he’s read (seems relevant). No reply. Anybody know the answer? Or perhaps want to have a go at getting an answer from him?

  • Steven said on April 4, 2013 at 4:04 pm

    Here is a link of a Q&A part of a lecture of Sam Harris some years back.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MuuKItF_xJo

    There he talks about the islamic humiliation due to western mistakes over the decades and now over a century if you go back to the time of imperialism in the late 19th century. Yet he makes absolutely clear (and I concur on that point) that beliefs truly matter and that many theological reasons made up to this behaviour. Also he stated that he doesn’t think that all muslims are the same or any other spurious claims. He divides clearly muslims by what they believe and how orthodox or narrow they view their holybook just as he does this with christians or jews.
    As Victoria, Fred and Bubrub as well as I tried to explain to you, is that believing something must influence your behaviour. What you believe is what you think is true about the world. If you think for instance that your life is miserable and it won’t get any better then ending this suffering by killing yourself becomes at that moment suddenly very reasonable. Applying this to the belief of an afterlife and the concept of heaven and hell (if you really sincerely believe it) it leads to the conclusion that you should do your best to get in heaven and avoid hell. That is why weird things like the inquisition happened in Europe. Putting that into account you can get strong motive for commiting suicide and killing a ton of people. So it just isn’t only politics or economics. It is in the end about what you believe constitutes reality and what you care about in life (or in the afterlife). If you concede that point then we are a great deal further in coming together in other different as we can speak clearly about beliefs and what consequences certain idologies can have. Of course we can and should speak about how to change policy in order to ensure muslim countries grow in a understanding of democracy and have the chance to build societies with civil liberties and chances to pursue happiness in life. Both matters as failing in one of these topics will foreclose the chance to ultimately live happy and freely.

  • Robby Bensinger said on April 4, 2013 at 4:08 pm

    Ahmed: Harris may not have commented on the particular interreligious conflicts you have in mind, but he has certainly criticized Buddhism and advocated its dissolution as a religion. This is for a number of reasons, but its role in sparking and perpetuating interreligious violence is very probably at the top of that list. Writes Harris:

    “Given the degree to which religion still inspires human conflict, and impedes genuine inquiry, I believe that merely being a self-described ‘Buddhist’ is to be complicit in the world’s violence and ignorance to an unacceptable degree. [...]

    “Indeed, religion is as much a living spring of violence today as it has been at any time in the past. The recent conflicts in Palestine (Jews vs. Muslims), the Balkans (Orthodox Serbians vs. Catholic Croatians; Orthodox Serbians vs. Bosnian and Albanian Muslims), Northern Ireland (Protestants vs. Catholics), Kashmir (Muslims vs. Hindus), Sudan (Muslims vs. Christians and animists), Nigeria (Muslims vs. Christians), Sri Lanka (Sinhalese Buddhists vs. Tamil Hindus), Indonesia (Muslims vs. Timorese Christians), Iran and Iraq (Shiite vs. Sunni Muslims), and the Caucasus (Orthodox Russians vs. Chechen Muslims; Muslim Azerbaijanis vs. Catholic and Orthodox Armenians) are merely a few cases in point. These are places where religion has been the explicit cause of literally millions of deaths in recent decades.”

    http://www.samharris.org/site/full_text/killing-the-buddha/

  • Ahmed said on April 4, 2013 at 4:10 pm

    Here is another gem from Harris:

    “As I regularly emphasize when discussing Islam, no one is suffering under the doctrine of Islam more than Muslims are—particularly Muslim women. Those who object to any attack upon the religion of Islam as “racist” or as a symptom of “Islamophobia” display a nauseating insensitivity to the subjugation of women throughout the Muslim world. At this moment, millions of women and girls have been abandoned to illiteracy, forced marriage, and lives of slavery and abuse under the guise of “multiculturalism” and “religious sensitivity.” This is a crime to which every apologist for Islam is now an accomplice.”

    OK, so he cares for Muslim women. Why then doesn’t he care for Hindu women? Child marriage is rife within the Hindu community in India, same with female infanticide, and as the recent rape cases have shown, women are routinely harassed in public and raped. You have forced marriages within the Hindu communities in India, and you have honour killings. So why is Sam Harris not speaking out against this?

    As I have shown repeatedly in this discussion, Harris has a soft spot for Eastern religions, because he flirted with them when he was young. This is why he uses a different criteria to judge them to the Abrahamic religions, particularly Islam. Harris is clearly biased, and it is about time his “fans” came out and acknowledged this.

    (BTW, Harris is not an atheist. He has publicly stated he is not one, and he believes in “spirituality”, which is why he is so “kind” towards Eastern religions).

  • Ahmed said on April 4, 2013 at 4:14 pm

    @John,

    You wrote : “I’ve tweeted and emailed Glenn Greenwald asking which of Harris’s books he’s read (seems relevant). No reply. Anybody know the answer? Or perhaps want to have a go at getting an answer from him?”

    What relevance does that have? Richard Dawkins recently said he has not read The Qur’an, but he justified the legitimacy of his anti-Islamic stance by saying one does not have to have read Mein Kampf to detest what it is about.

    Similarly, why does Glenn Greenwald have to have read a whole book by Harris? Has Sam Harris read books by people he criticises? Has Sam Harris read all of The Qur’an? Have you tweeted Sam Harris to ask him where his scholarship on Islam comes from?

  • Zach Sears said on April 4, 2013 at 4:18 pm

    @ Steven – I have no clue how my thinking that new atheists or specifically Sam Harris fear Islam as a greater threat than other religions is in any way a double standard when I’m not even comparing Islam to other religions, but the actions of a state he chooses to overlook in favor of spending a great deal of time writing to criticize Muslims and over amplify the threat they pose to the world. For example if Harris was really concerned with radical Islam in the world he would have to concede that it is on the rise and a growing danger. However, the causes of this are more often mixed with political motivations and a growing fear that as Harris himself states “we are at war with Islam” and not terrorism by those in the muslim world. Drone strikes away from any battlefield, fake vaccination programs to find Bin Laden, pre-emptive and illegal invasions with high civilian death tolls with torture and imprisonment have all increased the likelihood of a joining radical groups or organizing radical groups. Many are starting to see long term hegemonic control of the region and constant violence as not being a war on terrorism, but instead a war on Islam. Lets not forget one of the primary reasons those responsible for the 9/11 attacks gave for the attack was military occupation of holy lands which has been perceived as a war against Islam.

    Harris rather than fully discussing the threat that modern imperialism has posed to the radicalization of Islam as it’s obviously exacerbating the problems. While I agree and applaud much of Sam’s writings on religion and even Islam as a genuine critique on the rational failings of the faith, he seems to obviously over emphasize the threat and generates fear of Islam for non rational reasons as well. One of the more telling things we’ve seen in the response to 9/11 is that clerics, and other leaders condemned the attacks and acts of terrorism while claiming that Bin Laden has no authority to declare a Jihad against the US. Since then general feeling of cooperation to stop terrorism by those in religious positions has not only been in decline but a general anti US sentiment has arisen through much of the Muslim world. Rather than make claims about being at war with Islam when polls of the Muslim world show that only a small (but increasing) percentage are radical, Harris should include the facts that US policy is a factor in the radicalization of Islam as well as recognizing that the US poses more of a threat to the people of the middle east than does Islam. I recognize that a supported US war that has victimized hundreds of thousands in Iraq with death, torture, and destruction of civilian infrastructure is and has been far more destructive to the region than Islam over the last century. The Muslim religion has it’s obvious faults and I applaud Harris’ claims when they are rational fears or genuine concerns for people suffering because of religion, but they simply don’t compare with the threat posed to the de-stability of the world by the US. After all before the Iraq invasion you had a secular state with both Sunni and Shiite Muslims that coexisted as Iraqis while the invasion caused religious infighting and more religious extremism putting the country on the brink of civil war.

    I think you missed my main point, which was that Harris’ writings often overhype fear of Islam while at the same time not only ignoring the greater evils of US and western powers perpetrating constant acts of violence or providing material support for acs of violence against the muslim world, but instead writes on the threat Islam poses to us as part of the “civilized” world. Some of the quotes by harris in their full context lead me to believe he overhypes the dangers of Islam and irrationally generates fear of the Muslim world while at the same time arguing that we should instead not fear Cheney because they are more scary and pose more of a threat to us. How someone can be perceived as more of a threat than someone who not only supported waging aggressive pre-emptive multi-theater wars in the middle east but had the power machinations to do so is simply beyond me as it destroys the notion of fairly critiquing the situation. The idea that Islam poses to great of a threat to western civilization that these “aspiring martyrs will (not) make good neighbors for us” unless we realize how much more evil they are then Cheney is simply one of many examples where Harris defies verifiable evidence that the US is doing more harm to the middle east and the world than Islam. Indeed he stated tens of millions of people are more scary than him and points to Muslims blowing themselves up, flying planes into buildings, and cutting the heads off of journalists. However, reality doesn’t reflect the tens of millions number, and having the most destructive military force on the earth negates the need for such tactics as self sacrificing attacks and we certainly killed journalists as well as countless civilians in the Iraq war.

    Seeing as the US was the one who trained and armed the people responsible for attacking us on 9/11 in the 80′s, the majority of hijackers where from Saudi Arabia which is a US backed state, and the attacks were motivated by political more than religious reasons I fail to see how he can claim that there are tens of millions of muslims more scary than Cheney. That is the real double standard which is not holding your own civilization accountable while overhyping the the fear of the “other”. The attacks against us more rightly deserve to be classified as what they are, blowback. After all when the IRA was using terrorist methods to end British control of Ireland it wasn’t simply religious extremism but there was a great deal of political and social motivation and the same is true with even Islamic radicals or those that fight the western world and it’s hegemonic control of the region. If he honestly can’t admit that killing hundreds of thousands of civilians while leaving behind thousands of metric tons of depleted uranium is more dangerous to the middle east than Islamic extremism then he needs to clarify how he is measuring this evil in the world and why it is only evil when they kill. Then he should confront that these motivations have been and are more political than religious. Until then his views deserve to not only be discussed but his ethical rationality deserves strong critiques from those who want to defend both atheism and the world from irrational or overhyped fears of radical Islam. When he argues that the US and the western world seek to avoid murdering non combatants while they don’t he forgets that we’ve killed more non combatants by many many more times than any Islamic extremist has. Once again it’s an argument of we are noble western civilization and they are barbaric religious extremists with tens of millions scarier than Cheney while the western world kills over a hundred thousand in Iraq alone and imprisons and tortures many who are totally innocent. What more of a double standard could a person have?

  • Steven said on April 4, 2013 at 4:26 pm

    You can clearly be in a sense “spiritual” without believing in a divine artificer. Actually by Harris’ definition of spiritual you don’t have to believe in anything supernatural. Spirituality can come through meditation or contemplation in which you can alter your set of mind (or nervous system) in a way that you feel different towards things and change totally the way you perceive the world. This is possible and no pseudoscience as neuroplasticity links up with the experiments did rather nicely. Also you can feel in lucid dream or during meditation that you are omniscient and that you are connected with everything in the world and you feel you are in a nirvana-like state without believing that you actually are omniscient. His definition of spirituality is, I have to concede, rather different from what people usually mean by it, so it leads to a lot of misunderstandings. But he lacked of fantasy for creating a new word. :) I myself maybe just understood what he meant because I already did meditation and dream on a regular basis lucid. Still I don’t think that is bias.

  • Robby Bensinger said on April 4, 2013 at 4:43 pm

    Ahmed, you wrote: “Harris is not an atheist. He has publicly stated he is not one, and he believes in ‘spirituality’, which is why he is so “kind” towards Eastern religions”

    This is confused. Harris is an atheist; he has only said that he doesn’t like the word ‘atheist’, not that he fails to fall under its extension. Similarly, I don’t like the word ‘bright’, even though I admit that strictly speaking I am a bright (i.e., a non-supernaturalist).

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/sam-harris/there-is-no-god-and-you-k_b_8459.html

    You seem to be thinking that ‘atheism’ means rejecting religion and spirituality. But ‘atheism’ just means rejecting theism, i.e., rejecting belief in God. So it’s perfectly possible for an atheist in the relevant sense to subscribe to certain religions. Harris is both irreligious and an atheist (so he has no god nor religion), but he has endorsed spiritual practices.

    Cashing out what ‘spiritual’ means here is a complicated task, of course. But regardless, granting that there are more things Harris likes in Buddhism than in Islam doesn’t seem to have any bearing on the question of whether he’s biased. He rejects both Buddhism and Islam inasmuch as they exhibit similar properties, and the things he likes about mainstream Buddhism are generally things that it does not share in common with mainstream Islam. So, maybe he’s wrong about Buddhism. Maybe he’s wrong about Islam. But the mere fact that he has different views about demonstrably different religions doesn’t prove an error in any of the specific judgments. The only argument I could see in this neighborhood is that Harris has contradicted himself in advocating Buddhism while denouncing all religions; but the article I linked above shows that Harris thinks even Buddhism should cease to exist.

  • Ahmed said on April 4, 2013 at 4:44 pm

    Robby,

    You seem like a young, intelligent, honest guy, who will go places in the world, and whilst I did not agree with everything you said in this article (and strongly disagreed with your attack on Glenn Greenwald), I do think you made some valid points.

    I do however find the following from you to be quite incredible:

    “Harris may not have commented on the particular interreligious conflicts you have in mind, but he has certainly criticized Buddhism and advocated its dissolution as a religion. This is for a number of reasons, but its role in sparking and perpetuating interreligious violence is very probably at the top of that list.

    http://www.samharris.org/site/full_text/killing-the-buddha/

    Really? I mean, REALLY? Did you even read the article? I did, and he seems to be full of praise for Buddhism. Here are some quotes from the article:

    1) “Like much of Zen teaching, this seems too cute by half, but it makes a valuable point: to turn the Buddha into a religious fetish is to miss the essence of what he taught.” — This looks like praise to me.
    2) “One could surely argue that the Buddhist tradition, taken as a whole, represents the richest source of contemplative wisdom that any civilization has produced. In a world that has long been terrorized by fratricidal Sky-God religions, the ascendance of Buddhism would surely be a welcome development.” — Again, seriously, do you consider this to be criticism of Buddhism?
    3) “The wisdom of the Buddha is currently trapped within the religion of Buddhism” — Wisdom of Buddha, eh? Doesn’t look like criticism to me.
    4) “So insofar as we maintain a discourse as “Buddhists,” we ensure that the wisdom of the Buddha will do little to inform the development of civilization in the twenty-first century.” — C’mon Robby, do you really think that stating that the wisdom of Buddha will lead to the development of civilisation is criticism? I mean, SERIOUSLY?
    5) “In many respects, Buddhism is very much like science.” — Nothing needs to be said here!

    So Harris does state reasons why he thinks people should not identify themselves as Buddhists, he does not criticise the religion at all. Instead his article is full of praise of Buddhism.

    Anyway, Robby, as you’re an atheist, maybe you would like to read this criticism of Buddhism by a fellow atheist.

    http://www.loonwatch.com/2012/07/warrior-monks-the-untold-story-of-buddhist-violence-i/

    As you can see from this article, Buddhism is a very violent religion, where killing infidels isn’t even a sin!

    As Sam Harris seems to be quite a fan of yours, and even linked your article on Twitter, maybe you could send him a message to read the link I have presented on Buddhism, and then clarify his position on that religion?

    Thanks.

  • Robby Bensinger said on April 4, 2013 at 4:51 pm

    Ahmed: Certainly the article I linked to praises a lot of Buddhist doctrines and practices. It criticizes others, and it concludes on the whole that identifying as a Buddhist or promoting religious Buddhism is immoral, destructive, and makes the world a more violent place. I’m familiar with warrior monks, which support Harris’ point that, even though Buddhism has produced some interesting insights, its links to violence (which I quoted Harris pointing out twice) render it unfit as an overarching world-view. (Hence the title: “Killing the Buddha”.)

    I think the problem here is that you think Harris must either 100% endorse Buddhism, or 100% condemn it. Harris gets into trouble a lot of the time precisely because his views are more nuanced than that. If he only condemns 99% of Islam, only condemns 95% of Christianity, only condemns 85% of Buddhism, and only condemns 70% of Jainism, is he being inconsistent? Perhaps. But he may also just be attending to differences between and within each religion. To determine which is the case, you’ll have to do a lot more work to evaluate his specific claims, not just point to variation in Harris’ assessments of religious doctrines and triumphantly stop there.

  • Ahmed said on April 4, 2013 at 4:58 pm

    “I think the problem here is that you think Harris must either 100% endorse Buddhism, or 100% condemn it. Harris gets into trouble a lot of the time precisely because his views are more nuanced than that. If he only condemns 99% of Islam, only condemns 95% of Christianity, only condemns 85% of Buddhism, and only condemns 70% of Jainism, is he being inconsistent? Perhaps. ”

    I have absolutely no problem with Harris condemning one religion more than other, in fact, I think it would be stupid for someone to think all religions are equal.

    However, I have not seen Harris condemn Buddhist theology even 1%. And I would like to see that. That is why I have asked you to tweet Harris (as he will respond to you), and ask him to read the article I have cited (which shows how Buddhist theology endorses the killing of infidels), and clarify what his views on this are.

  • Ahmed said on April 4, 2013 at 5:03 pm

    @Robby,

    You stated: “You seem to be thinking that ‘atheism’ means rejecting religion and spirituality. But ‘atheism’ just means rejecting theism, i.e., rejecting belief in God. ”

    Well, that is not the definition of atheism according to Harris. He defines it as: “Atheism is nothing more than the noises reasonable people make in the presence of unjustified religious beliefs”.

    Therefore, if Harris is an atheist according to his definition, I assume, after reading the article I linked to which exposes the murderous Buddhist philosophy that an infidel is the lowest form of life and killing an infidel is not a sin, Harris will come out and says he finds this belief to be disgusting, yes? Let’s not sit here guessing, let’s ask Harris directly, as I said, he will respond to your tweet, so why don’t you tweet him and ask him to post a response to this question on his website – surely you will agree that is the most reasonable thing to do.

  • Ahmed said on April 4, 2013 at 5:16 pm

    @Zach,

    A very reasonable post. Funnily enough, the Harris supporters (the majority of who are atheists) actually treat him as some demi-god where he can do no wrong and where everything he says must be defended. Oh, the irony of it!

  • Robby Bensinger said on April 4, 2013 at 5:22 pm

    In the “Killing the Buddha” article I provided, Harris writes that most Buddhists practice buddhism “in many of the naive, petitionary, and superstitious ways in which all religions are practiced.”

    More: “[T]he fact that the Dalai Lama regularly meets with Western scientists to discuss the nature of the mind does not mean that Buddhism, or Tibetan Buddhism, or even the Dalai Lama’s own lineage, is uncontaminated by religious dogmatism. Indeed, there are ideas within Buddhism that are so incredible as to render the dogma of the virgin birth plausible by comparison. No one is served by a mode of discourse that treats such pre-literate notions as integral to our evolving discourse about the nature of the human mind. Among Western Buddhists, there are college-educated men and women who apparently believe that Guru Rinpoche was actually born from a lotus. This is not the spiritual breakthrough that civilization has been waiting for these many centuries.”

    And: “[T]here is much more for us to understand about how the mind can transform itself from a mere reservoir of greed, hatred, and delusion into an instrument of wisdom and compassion. Students of the Buddha are very well placed to further our understanding on this front, but the religion of Buddhism currently stands in their way.”

    And, again, I already noted that Harris blames Buddhism for quite a bit of interreligious violence. Adding even more evidence to the pile is just fine.

    For good measure, here’s a live interview featuring Harris making fun of Hindu and Buddhist claims to superpowers, calling them “as crazy as anything you’ve heard”: http://podscribed.com/joerogan/sam-harris-on-joe-rogan-podcast-192/44/

    If you want to talk to Harris directly about this, I suggest you simply e-mail him yourself: http://www.samharris.org/contact

  • Jason B said on April 4, 2013 at 5:31 pm

    Ahmed – you suggest both Robby and Sam do not point out that the majority of British muslims are AGAINST killing in the name of Islam. Even given your correction suggesting the survey indicates only 32% were in favor, both Sam and this article only claimed 38%.

    So you are in fact agreeing with what they put forward, namely that over 30% of British muslims are in favor of such killing.

    Now I completely understand why YOU want to emphasize that this means the majority of British muslims did not support such killing, but with all due respect there is absolutely no need for Sam nor this author to do so. Even using the figure they quote, 38%, this still indicates the same thing as you are emphasizing, that the majority of British muslims (the other 62%, given their numbers), are NOT in favor of it.
    I think that Sam and Robby’s assumption that their readers will be able to understand the basic mathetics involved (100% of British muslims – 38% of British muslims in favor of = 62% of British mulsims not in favor of) is entirely and completely acceptable.

    What I find most concerning about your posts, Sir, is that even given the figure you cite, 32% if favor of, that you are more concerned that the emphasis was not on those who are not in favor of as opposed to being absolutely appalled, horrified and disgusted by the fact that approximately one-third of British muslims surveyed were in favor of such barbaric and undemocratic behaviour, indeed by supporting such behaviour they are actually endorsing undermining the democracy and freedoms which are the basis of modern Western civilization.

    For shame, Ahmed. For shame.

  • Ahmed said on April 4, 2013 at 5:34 pm

    No, Robby, Harris has not criticised Buddhist theology anywhere in that article you have quoted. Please, let’s not insult one another’s intelligence by making absurd claims, and let’s just stay true to the facts. Harris has condemned how the implementation of Buddhism can cause problems, but the actual religion and its teachings, he has not condemned. Surely an intelligent young man like you can see the difference.

    Again, making fun of Buddhist and Hindu claims to superpowers isn’t the same as criticising the theological beliefs of that religion. Harris makes fun of them because even Harris realises that someone who claims he can do special things but cannot deliver makes a complete caricature of themselves.

    I am sure Harris is a busy guy, and he probably doesn’t have time to email everyone who contacts him, particularly someone who he doesn’t know. Considering you wrote an article vehemently defending Harris and attacking Hussain and Greenwald, and considering Harris posted a link to it on his twitter, I think he has a moral obligation to answer you if you ask him to elaborate on what his views on the violence within Buddhism are. This is why I have asked you to contact him and ask him to post a response to this on either his website, or here – surely you are as interested in me in getting a clarification on what exactly Harris feels about Buddhist violence, and whether he is going to tweet about the persecution of Muslims by Buddhists that is currently happening in Burma and Sri Lanka.

    Thanks.

    PS You have still not corrected your incorrect statement that Harris called European fascists lunatics – please do so.

  • CGW said on April 4, 2013 at 6:04 pm

    Funny how Ahmed declines to respond to FredM’s post and mine as well.

    Telling?

  • Ahmed said on April 4, 2013 at 6:17 pm

    @CGW,

    I actually missed your post, and I did respond to FredM – I linked him to an article that answered one of his questions, and I asked him to go and read it and then come and debate with me. That was very reasonable of me, the fact he didn’t shows intellectual dishonesty on his part.

    Anyway, now that I have gone and read your post, here is a response to it.

    “FredM is not asking for a debate on his two questions. He simply asked you to state WHAT YOU BELIEVE with regard to his two questions. Any “article” written on those subjects is completely irrelevant to the discussion.”

    I believe what the article that I pointed him to states – I mean, I thought it would be obvious if someone asks you for your opinion on something, and you post them to an article, then that means you endorse the viewpoint of that article. So you claim that any article written on those subjects is completely irrelevant to the discussion is completely nonsensical, because it is totally relevant.

    “You have studiously avoided responding because you are aware that it would be BLASPHEMY on your part to reject any concept (in this case, the torture of adulterers and the treatment of non-muslims) prescribed by the quran. You try to deflect attention away from your refusal to reject quranic injunctions by pointing to articles containing opinions of others so as not to incriminate yourself.”

    Rubbish. I endorse the same views as stated in the article I linked to. You know, ad hominem attacks are one of the worst ways to argue a point, because it just shows your argument has no ground to stand on.

    “Taqiyya and kitman going on here, folks.”

    Ah, been reading a lot of Robert Spencer, eh? Here is an article on taqiyya and kitman that complete destroys Spencer’s nonsense on taqiyya and kitman.

    http://www.loonwatch.com/2010/08/silencing-spencer-taqiyya-and-kitman-are-part-of-judeo-christian-belief/

    Of course, you will not read that article, because you only want to read articles that are from anti-Islamic websites.

    Telling?

    Prove me wrong. State openly whether you approve or eject the two concepts outlined by FredM and delineated specifically by the quran.

  • Ahmed said on April 4, 2013 at 6:19 pm

    “Prove me wrong. State openly whether you approve or eject the two concepts outlined by FredM and delineated specifically by the quran.”

    it really is quite simple. You go and read the article whose viewpoints I endorse, and then come back and ask me specific questions that are still not answered by that article.

  • Robby Bensinger said on April 4, 2013 at 6:23 pm

    Ahmed: If you have some model on which Buddhism has a strong distinction between a “theology” and its “implementation”, then I confess I am not privy to it. Strictly speaking Buddhism’s “theology” would only concern its deities, and not all Buddhists even believe in deities.

    As for the passage about fascists, I wasn’t specifically referring to European ones. But your concern is technically correct, though I think a little hair-splitting. I’ve revised the line to just speak of “zealots” in place of “fascists”, so as to encompass all the groups Harris was referring to in the original passage. Is it clearer now?

  • John Dickinson said on April 4, 2013 at 6:51 pm

    Ahmed: Re. relevance of having read books – yes, all fine points. It’s just that it this particular spat seems to be about quotes being (or not being) taken out of context. It seems that Harris is being characterised by a few quotes (maybe or maybe not out of context). All Harris is known for is his writings – he’s an author. Whereas one of the other other examples you’ve quoted, that of not requiring to have read Mein Kampf to have a valid opinion on Hitler, is making a judgement based on a vast wealth of other evidence.

    Anyway, thanks for replying. It would be interesting to know which of Harris’s books Glenn had read.

  • Ahmed said on April 4, 2013 at 7:00 pm

    @John,

    As someone who has been reading Greenwald since he was at Salon, I know quite a bit about the guy, and I am sure he has not read any of Harris’s books (it’s not really his area of interest). That said, most of the quotes of Harris that Greenwald has reproduced over the past few days are directly linked to Harris’s own website, so I do not think Greenwald is taking his quotes out of context.

  • Ahmed said on April 4, 2013 at 7:10 pm

    @FredM,

    You say: “Studied the Qur’an in my case means I’ve read it multiple times, consulting multiple translations, and studying the Arabic for some key words, analyzing it, taking notes, thinking about it, reading what others (especially mainstream Muslim tafsirs, which are still used today) say about it. I’m familiar with both Jihadwatch and Loonwatch, which I classified in my opinion as the extreme partisan sites with which you seem to be preoccupied. I asked you to answer my two questions. You refuse to do so, and like Murtaza, attempt to send me on a wild goose chase.”

    I find those claims hard to believe, as many, many times I have heard the same claims from individuals, but when they’re probed further, you realise that they’re overstating their credentials to try and give themselves more credibility.

    Anyway, I am not sending you on a wild goose chase. I have stated that my view on the subjugation of non-Muslims is the same as the article I am linking you to, so surely the sensible thing to do would be to go and read that article, and then come and debate me on things from that article yo disagree with.

  • Ahmed said on April 4, 2013 at 7:15 pm

    @Robby,

    You said: “Ahmed: If you have some model on which Buddhism has a strong distinction between a “theology” and its “implementation”, then I confess I am not privy to it. Strictly speaking Buddhism’s “theology” would only concern its deities, and not all Buddhists even believe in deities.”

    No, Buddhism theology would not only concern its deities, Buddhist theology would include what Buddhist scriptures state. As clearly shown in that article that I quoted, one of the Buddhist scriptures states that an infidel is the lowest form of life and killing an infidel is not a sin. This is pretty nasty, would you not agree?

    As Harris has been very praiseworthy of Buddhism, and as he has never criticised anything written in Buddhist scriptures, I think it is time to ask Harris for his viewpoint on this matter. As you are a fan of Harris’s, and as you have vehemently defended him, I assume you would be as interested as I am to find out what opinion Harris has on these despicable parts of Buddhist texts, and that you will duly contact him to ask him to clarify his position.

    Thanks.

  • Reilly said on April 4, 2013 at 7:22 pm

    @Ahmed@John
    John wrote: “I’ve tweeted and emailed Glenn Greenwald asking which of Harris’s books he’s read (seems relevant). No reply. Anybody know the answer? Or perhaps want to have a go at getting an answer from him?”
    You(Ahmed) asked: “What relevance does that have?”
    It seems relevant to Greenwald’s claim in his update:
    “Nonetheless, my focus here is on Harris, and I haven’t conducted the type of comprehensive examination of Dawkins’ writing as I have of Harris’, so whether Dawkins belongs in this group to the same extent that Harris does is something that is worthy of further debate.”
    When someone says they’ve made a “comprehensive examination” of an author, asking them which books they’ve read is hardly an outlandish request. And John’s question seemed, to me, to be a sincere inquiry, rather than a “gotcha” challenge. Which makes John more trusting than me. Personally, I take Greenwald’s “comprehensive examination” of Harris to be a euphemism for having read a couple of magazine articles and engaging in a googledemia crash course. I certainly could be wrong, but John wasn’t to have asked the question.

  • John Dickinson said on April 4, 2013 at 7:22 pm

    Thanks Ahmed. A shame that Glenn launched into such a touchy area and at a particular target without the interest that would have led to a fuller understanding of Harris’s work. Whether or not Harris is justified in his anger, it seems as though it’s sent Glenn off digging for quotes from other people who criticise Harris (not bad in itself, just not balanced). Even if you leave aside Harris’s points of view on religion he’s still got interesting things to say about philosophy, morality and ethics. Ah well… now he’s branded with an “ist” and a “phobia” and can’t be heard out.

    Thanks for talking.

  • Ahmed said on April 4, 2013 at 7:26 pm

    @JasonB,

    “What I find most concerning about your posts, Sir, is that even given the figure you cite, 32% if favor of, that you are more concerned that the emphasis was not on those who are not in favor of as opposed to being absolutely appalled, horrified and disgusted by the fact that approximately one-third of British muslims surveyed were in favor of such barbaric and undemocratic behaviour, indeed by supporting such behaviour they are actually endorsing undermining the democracy and freedoms which are the basis of modern Western civilization.

    For shame, Ahmed. For shame.”

    Axtually, as I posted in another post, in another poll:

    http://www.rawstory.com/rs/2011/08/03/poll-muslims-atheists-most-likely-to-reject-violence/

    In this survey, 78% of American Muslims say the killing of civilians is never justified, compared to 46% of atheists and 39& of Christians.

    In other words, 54% of American atheists consider that the killing of civilians can be justified. So Jason, are you going to come out and criticise the civilised Western society that thinks the killing of civilians can be justified? Of course not, you’re going to be an apologist, and you’re going to say that sadly, sometimes in life, we have to kill civilians to preserve out values. Yet when 32% of Muslims think killing to preserve their values is justifiable, you suddenly cry that this is “barbaric”.

    In other words, you have a double standard – if 54% of American atheists think it is ok to kill CIVILIANS to preserve their way of life, then it is justifiable, if 32% of British Muslims think it is ok to kill (and the survey did not mention civilians) to preserve their way of life, then it is barbaric.

    For shame, Jason. For shame.

  • Ahmed said on April 4, 2013 at 7:39 pm

    @John,

    Well, Harris considers it is morally justifiable to launch a pre-emptive nuclear strike against an Islamic nation that might have acquired long-range missile technology and nuclear warheads, even if it means we kill tens of millions of civilians in a day. He says this would be a terrible thing to do, but he still justifies it morally.

    I think that is completely nonsensical. Firstly, even if a nation did launch an ICBM with a nuclear warhead on it, the chances are that it will be shot down before it reached its destination. In other words, it is very unlikely that any Islamic nation would be able to deliver a nuclear warhead into a Western nation. Secondly, even if one did get through, and it hit a city like New York, the casualties would probably be less than a million. Which is a million too many, but would it be justifiable to kill tens of millions of Muslim civilians (who have no say on their government launching a nuclear weapon) to save a million of our people? If Russia was about to go to war with the UK (where I am from), and someone said to me there is a chance that Russia might nuke us and a million of us, including you and your family would die, and to stop this we can launch a pre-emptive strike against Russia which will stop this from happening but will kill tens of millions of Russian citizens, I would not sit there and say “let’s do it”. To do so would be extremely sellfish and morally reprehensible. Yet this is what Sam Harris is endorsing, and this is why many people have spoken out against this quote of his.

  • CGW said on April 4, 2013 at 7:42 pm

    @Ahmed

    Why the refusal to simply speak for yourself? What are you afraid of? I’m asking about your personal beliefs. Are you so incapable of articulating them yourself that you need to reference the words and opinions of others? You won’t even post between quotation marks the “relevant” passages. Why not? Are you that intellectually lazy, or is it avoidance?

    It does look suspicious.

  • Ahmed said on April 4, 2013 at 7:48 pm

    “Why the refusal to simply speak for yourself? What are you afraid of? I’m asking about your personal beliefs.”

    I am not refusing to speak for myself. I have stated that everything that article states, is what I endorse. Those are my views. It is perfectly legitimate (and normal) for someone to link to an article that someone else has written when asked for their opinion on something. If someone is an atheist who detests Islam, if they have read an article by Dawkins which criticises Islam and they agree with it, and if someone then asks them why they hate Islam, then it is perfectly normal for that individual to simply post a link to the Dawkins article. I mean, why would someone rewrite everything Dawkins has said and they agree with when they can simply post a link to that article.

    “Are you that intellectually lazy, or is it avoidance? ”

    You and FredM should be asking yourselves this question – why is it so difficult for you to go and read an article that states the same views that I have on a certain topic?

  • Ahmed said on April 4, 2013 at 7:51 pm

    I’m going to be pretty much offline for a few days, but I will be back to debate those who want to continue doing so. I am also looking forward for Robby to ask Sam Harris to clarify his views on the despicable passages from Buddhist scriptures that state that an infidel is the lowest form of life and that killing an infidel isn’t a sin, because I am sure all his atheist admirers are as interested as I am in seeing what his opinion on this matter is.

  • Ahmed said on April 4, 2013 at 7:54 pm

    “Why the refusal to simply speak for yourself? What are you afraid of? I’m asking about your personal beliefs.”

    I am not refusing to speak for myself. I have stated that everything that article states, is what I endorse. Those are my views. It is perfectly legitimate (and normal) for someone to link to an article that someone else has written when asked for their opinion on something. If someone is an atheist who detests Islam, if they have read an article by Dawkins which criticises Islam and they agree with it, and if someone then asks them why they hate Islam, then it is perfectly normal for that individual to simply post a link to the Dawkins article. I mean, why would someone rewrite everything Dawkins has said and they agree with when they can simply post a link to that article.

    “Are you that intellectually lazy, or is it avoidance? ”

    You and FredM should be asking yourselves this question – why is it so difficult for you to go and read an article that states the same views that I have on a certain topic?

  • Ahmed said on April 4, 2013 at 7:55 pm

    I’m going to be pretty much offline for a few days, but I will be back to debate those who want to continue doing so. I am also looking forward for Robby to ask Sam Harris to clarify his views on the despicable passages from Buddhist scriptures that state that an infidel is the lowest form of life and that killing an infidel isn’t a sin, because I am sure all his atheist admirers are as interested as I am in seeing what his opinion on this matter is.

  • Sree said on April 4, 2013 at 8:42 pm

    Awesome article, Robby! Another voice of reason, if I may add. Thank you also for taking the time to research and repudiate those unjust claims against Sam. Thank you

  • CGW said on April 4, 2013 at 9:02 pm

    @Ahmed

    Please post the associated quotations from the article. Links to loonwatch occasion my security software to warn of threats. Rather than attempt to decontaminate afterward, I prefer to avoid them.

    Since the link you provided pertains solely to treatment of non-muslims, do you have a similarly outsourced statement of your own opinions with regard to the torture of adulterers as outlined by FredM above?

  • Fred M said on April 4, 2013 at 9:28 pm

    Ahmed,

    You still haven’t answered my questions. To illustrate how easy this is, I will give my answers to them, and, once having demonstrated the procedure, you can then follow suit.

    [Re Q 24:2] “Do you reject the policy, which entails torture, of whipping fornicators with 100 stripes “without mercy”, or not?”

    Yes, I reject that horrendous and evil policy which involves torture.

    [Re 8:60-61, 9:29, 9:123, etc.] “Do you reject the policy of waging war against non-Muslims and imposing Islamic rules and conditions upon them, or not?”

    Yes, I reject that terrible imperialist policy of religious warfare, killing, and subjugation.

    See? Easy-breezy stuff!

    And your responses?

  • Poyani said on April 4, 2013 at 10:25 pm

    Hussain’s representation of Harris was both honest and accurate. It is actually Robby that is totally misrepresenting both Hussain and Harris. Here are a few examples:

    Robby disputes that Harris advocated a nuclear first strike against any Islamic country with the bomb (say Pakistan or Iran). This is actually EXACTLY what Harris argued in context. He argued that Muslims as a people (being the sub-human creatures that they are) are missing both the survival and reproduction instincts that all humans (and all animals too) have, and hence would not be restrained by a “mutually-assured destruction” scenario. That was his argument IN CONTEXT. It is an argument he has made on numerous occasions.

    Likewise, Harris has argued, that when it comes to Muslims, he agrees with the positions of the fascists (which he considers correct on this and only this topic) and strongly disagrees with the liberal (I would argue just civilized and decent) position. This was his position IN CONTEXT. It was in fact the entire argument. In the article which Hussain quoted, Harris was arguing that on the one issue of hating Muslims (Islamophobia not being a real thing) he agrees with Fascists over Liberals, much to his own disappointment.

    The rest of the quotes are also totally accurate in context. In each case Robby either totally misrepresents Hussain or totally misrepresents Harris in order to create some fictional disparity.

  • Jason B said on April 4, 2013 at 10:54 pm

    @ Murtaza Hussain

    “his many other public comments (which you omit)”

    And, even more notably given you are the one bringing it up and suggesting these “other public comments” are relevant, you ALSO omit them.

    Telling point indeed. Almost as if claiming they exist without actually putting anything forward was your intent. I’m sure I’m wrong, though, and you will correct the oversight.

    Yes?

  • Brent S said on April 5, 2013 at 12:11 am

    >Ahmed Says:
    >I am also looking forward for Robby to ask Sam Harris to clarify his views on the despicable passages from Buddhist scriptures that state that an infidel is the lowest form of life and that killing an infidel isn’t a sin, because I am sure all his atheist admirers are as interested as I am in seeing what his opinion on this matter is.

    Here’s the thing: Sam Harris has made his views quite clear on a wide range of topics, including this one. Harris has laid out a general rubric for *how he thinks*, and much of the outrage he seems to attract can be attributed to his frank and relentless pursuit of reason. There’s so much content on these subjects that are not only freely available online, but *directly published* by Sam Harris, that it lays bare the fact that your motivations control your reasoning.

    This is literally the very first Google result for “Sam Harris Buddhism”:

    http://www.samharris.org/site/full_text/killing-the-buddha/

    I trust you will read it.

  • Adam said on April 5, 2013 at 3:07 am

    Sorry, Poyani – if you were so confident that you were correctly representing Harris’s supposed favoring a nuclear first strike against a nuclear-capable Islamic nation, you’d actually post the context, or link to it. Here – let me help: http://www.samharris.org/site/full_text/response-to-controversy2

    “It should be of particular concern to us that the beliefs of Muslims pose a special problem for nuclear deterrence. There is little possibility of our having a cold war with an Islamist regime armed with long-range nuclear weapons. A cold war requires that the parties be mutually deterred by the threat of death. Notions of martyrdom and jihad run roughshod over the logic that allowed the United States and the Soviet Union to pass half a century perched, more or less stably, on the brink of Armageddon. What will we do if an Islamist regime, which grows dewy-eyed at the mere mention of paradise, ever acquires long-range nuclear weaponry? If history is any guide, we will not be sure about where the offending warheads are or what their state of readiness is, and so we will be unable to rely on targeted, conventional weapons to destroy them. In such a situation, the only thing likely to ensure our survival may be a nuclear first strike of our own. Needless to say, this would be an unthinkable crime—as it would kill tens of millions of innocent civilians in a single day—but it may be the only course of action available to us, given what Islamists believe. How would such an unconscionable act of self-defense be perceived by the rest of the Muslim world? It would likely be seen as the first incursion of a genocidal crusade. The horrible irony here is that seeing could make it so: this very perception could plunge us into a state of hot war with any Muslim state that had the capacity to pose a nuclear threat of its own. All of this is perfectly insane, of course: I have just described a plausible scenario in which much of the world’s population could be annihilated on account of religious ideas that belong on the same shelf with Batman, the philosopher’s stone, and unicorns. That it would be a horrible absurdity for so many of us to die for the sake of myth does not mean, however, that it could not happen. Indeed, given the immunity to all reasonable intrusions that faith enjoys in our discourse, a catastrophe of this sort seems increasingly likely. We must come to terms with the possibility that men who are every bit as zealous to die as the nineteen hijackers may one day get their hands on long-range nuclear weaponry. The Muslim world in particular must anticipate this possibility and find some way to prevent it. Given the steady proliferation of technology, it is safe to say that time is not on our side.”

  • Sree said on April 5, 2013 at 3:52 am

    @FredM, Victoria, Robby and everyone else! A very interesting article, followed by even more interesting comments – especially the debate(?) on religion – be it Islam, Buddhism, Christianity or any other religion. My deepest sympathies to the likes of FredM, Victoria and even Robby and Sam H. The way I see it, there is no way anyone, including the likes of Sam H and Richard D, can win an argument against religion – not because of any paucity of intellectual capabilities but simply because those arguing for religion always have a trick up their sleeve – they can always, as a last resort – quite often the only resort – blame it on interpretation or translation. Take Ahmed’s arguments at some point during the debate, if you will. FredM categorically stated that he has studied widely accepted translations of Quran, at least more than once, even referred to Arabic to clarify a few of the words or phrases. Victoria referred to a book on Sharia – again, endorsed by a University in Egypt – but apparently, none of these would suffice – for Ahmed, not surprisingly, finds a way to discredit them (no point in explaining how, it’s way too obvious). The point is, even if you study Arabic and read the “original” Quran and come up with those damning quotations, the likes of Ahmed would still find a way to discredit it by probably implying something like ‘well, that’s not how Arabic was interpreted in those days’ or some such equally ridiculous argument. And this is not peculiar to Islam. I am from India and I can do this with Hinduism as well (I am not a believer, by the way) – I can come up with some beautiful arguments in favor of Hinduism but the moment I encounter some inconvenient truths such as untouchability, I can, so very conveniently, blame it on misinterpretation or mis-translation. So if someone like FredM asks me a simple, straightforward question such as “Do you accept untouchability as a nefarious practice?” – if I have even an iota of integrity, I should be able to say “Yes” and move on – not send him on a wild goose chase – not send him a few “links” asking him to read the links first as I have already addressed that question earlier – a simple Yes or No would close the argument. Anyway, I am digressing. The point is, religion is not an exact science – which always leaves room for interpretation – the way you want it. It is not exactly like a mathematical equation such as, say, 2+2. With an equation such as 2+2, there is no ambiguity. There is no Hindu way of looking at it, no Christian way of disproving it or no Islamic way of deciphering it. The answer remains four – regardless of what religion you follow, what holy book you read or what race you belong to. And if, in future, a mathematician comes along disproving the answer, a scientific mind would examine the evidence and either accept it if it is irrefutable or throw it out if it is plain ridiculous – either way, the rest of the scientific community would not declare a holy war or issue a fatwa against the “non-believing” mathematicians. Whereas when it comes to religion or any “faith based” philosophy – well, what can one say – the believers just get “offended” when you question their faith. It is almost as if the weaker their faith, the less their threshold for tolerance is.

    I am not endorsing “Western Culture” in its entirety, but I do find it ironic that most of those who argue against the decadence of Western Culture and its “evil” influence seem to – very conveniently, if I may add – overlook the fact that it is the very decadent Western Culture that’s actually enabling them to protest. Had the Western culture also been as intolerant as, say, that of Taleban, it is most unlikely that their voices would have been heard, blogs published, arguments listened to. So before they denounce the decadent Western Culture, it might be a good idea for them to reflect on this – would they be allowed to be so vocal – so fearless and frank – under the regime of Taleban? As equally ridiculous as other religions are, they at least maintain a semblance of tolerance. How many of you are privy to the knowledge that recently, in Auckland, New Zealand, some of the Jewish graves were vandalized? My guess is not many – not because the Jews were not offended but just because there were no wide-spread agitations, no fatwas, no attacks on embassies, no calls for holy wars. As a disclaimer, I reiterate that I am not a believer but can you imagine something like that happening to say, a Muslim burial site, and NOT hearing about it on BBC, CNN and so on? Can you not see at least a part of the Islamic world going up in arms, talking about victimisation and how the rest of the world is bent up on wiping out Islam? Can you not see added security, at least for a few weeks after, in air ports across the world? Well, is it any surprise that at least a part of the world “suffers” from Islamophobia?

    (part of my comment above will also be reproduced in my own blog)

  • Bubrub said on April 5, 2013 at 4:28 am

    @Poyani

    I’m not really sure what to say other than you didn’t get Harris’s writing on nuclear first strike. I can understand why you, and many others, are confused by his writing, as when only looking at a quote here or there OUTSIDE of the context of ALL his work and views, such a quote can easily be misrepresented.

    In my opinion, the source of confusion seems to be that you believe Sam is referring to ALL Muslims, moderate, conservative, and fanatical. However, please see the following for clarification: http://www.samharris.org/site/full_text/response-to-controversy2

    Take special note of the last several lines in that paragraph from The End of Faith.

    There are at least four very important points here.

    First, Sam would like to PREVENT a nuclear war, not start one.

    Second, Sam considers a nuclear strike to be an unthinkable crime, regardless of whether or not it may in reality be a survival solution to the very specific (and currently NOT REAL WORLD) scenario that he laid out.

    Third, it is now clear that Sam’s very specific nuclear first strike scenario (which he himself does consider an unconscionable act) involves people who are of the same belief system of the nineteen hijackers. This does not apply to the majority of Muslims. If you think that Sam Harris believes that all Muslims around the world are identical in their beliefs, then please scroll up because another comment already addressed this. So when Harris refers to an “Islamist regime” he is referring to one that sincerely believes in the “notions of martyrdom and jihad.” It is a true statement that a regime that **sincerely** believes in these notions would not be easily restrained by a mutually-assured destruction scenario.

    Fourth, by saying that the “Muslim world” must anticipate and prevent this possibility, he is clearly implying that the “Muslim world” is a responsible entity that IS capable of routing out the crazies from its culture. If Sam believed, as you claim he does, that literally ALL Muslims are “sub-human creatures” then it would make no logical sense to appeal to the “Muslim world” in this way.

    If you think that Sam Harris believes that the billions of Muslims in this world are identical to the hijackers in their fanaticism, then we really can’t have a reasonable conversation on the subject. Watch a few of his videos and click some of the links that others have posted here. You will quickly learn that this is not the case.

    Once again, I can see why his writing would lead you and others to mass confusion and anger due to misunderstanding. In paragraphs like the one linked to above, Sam should have explicitly written out “some” before each instance of “Muslims”. ***This one change alone would clear up a lot of confusion for those whose first engagement with Sam’s work is out of context.***

    One could say that Sam does not do a good enough job in vaccinating some of his writing from misunderstanding. Sam has himself said, “I can’t shake the feeling that if I just wrote or spoke more clearly, this sort of thing wouldn’t happen.”

  • Christine said on April 5, 2013 at 5:59 am

    Thank you ten and Zach Sears for introducing an sense of context into this. I note an interesting compulsion to patronize Hussain, e.g. telling him he is being schooled, and to enjoy his fifteen minutes. Amidst all this talk of psychoanalyzing – or not- Sam Harris – I encourage those who feel the need to make these kinds of comments to pause for a moment’s introspection. I mention this not out of concern for Hussain — but a) because I think this kind of non-potty-mouthed trolling is impertinent in any debate and b) because I think the compulsion to infantilise a professional and succesful writer is, well, interesting in light of his ethnicity, religion, and the very lineage of authoritative knowledge production he recalls in the discussed article.

  • Hawy said on April 5, 2013 at 6:24 am

    Wow, this Ahmed shoud from now on be called ‘the Artful Dodger’.

    One wonders what he represents, is it the religion of Islam that its founder allowed the acquisition of helpless women for sex right after their husbands are killed im the battle field? How could a rational person be a bedfellow with a creed that its founder repeatedly took position of such helpless women?

    Ahmed harped on about Harris’ hatred when the Quran is replete with vile descriptions of anyone that is not a Muslim.

    Ahmed claimed that it is an ad hominem to disregard any link to loonwatch that he gave, but he at the same time does not think much of any information from Jihadwatch as he has shown in a post above.

    Ahmed’s claim about Harris not condemning Hindu violence is a Tu quoque fallacy and a belies a desperate attempt at defamation.

    As for Muslims and their condoning or condemning the sept 11 attacks, Ahmed should know that it is the Western Muslims that largely condemned this attack, the majority of African and Middleeastern Muslims consider Osama a divine hero, some in West Africa even begin to name their kids after the man, prior to the attack, the name was not popular in West Africa. I have visited many Arab countries; I didn’t take a formal survey, but it is obvious that they like Osama.

    It is a shame that people could defend absurdities….people like these should try to moderate Mohammad’s words like: I have been made victorious with Terror…..and ‘killing an unbeliever is a small matter to us’.

  • Hawy said on April 5, 2013 at 6:54 am

    An addendum

    It will be good for people to understand that many Muslims would not accept capital pushments when asked by a non Muslim during poll questions….this goes for questions about sept 11 and the likes….how do I know this; because I was a Muslim, not converted but born into a Muslim family. I interact with Muslim almost on constant basis.

    It is funny how Ahmed and the likes condemn Israel for largely defending itself while Islam forcefully usurped power or decimated other populations in an international forceful convertion campaign. People like Ahmed see a tactful manoeuvre when Mohammad broke the Arab’s treaty and attacked within a forbidden period, but would complain about Israel for violating UN rules…..double standards.

    For the record, I do not think anyone who remains sanguine about Islam’s demeaning description of other people, and commands to kill other people -should qualify as credible or trenchant critics of those who attempt to actually criticize Islam for those same ‘prejudiced’ descriptions and commands to kill other people.

  • Lindsay said on April 5, 2013 at 8:54 am

    Absolutely superb. Thank you for taking the time to write this.

  • jack smith said on April 5, 2013 at 9:08 am

    The following would suggest that he is talking about any Islamist state which acquires nuclear weapons:

    “There is little possibility of our having a cold war with an Islamist regime armed with long-range nuclear weapons”

    and

    “Needless to say, this would be an unthinkable crime—as it would kill tens of millions of innocent civilians in a single day—but it may be the only course of action available to us, given what Islamists believe”

    Not “some Islamists” or “certain Islamists”, just Islamists.

    You may also observe the conflation of Muslims with Islamists with “It should be of particular concern to us that the beliefs of Muslims pose a special problem for nuclear deterrence.”

    It should also be noted that he is not talking about a state that is actually threatening to use nuclear weapons. Not even one about which our governments claimed to possess intelligence pertaining to a planned attack (however justifiably sceptical we may be about that in these post-WMD times.) No, causing the deaths of tens of millions of civilians would be justified simply on the basis of ‘what Islamists believe.’ And the responsibility to prevent this wholesale carnage rests firmly with ‘the Muslim world’, which ‘must anticipate this possibility and find some way to prevent it’.

    Given the gravity of what he is proposing, I think it was incumbent on Harris to spell out the sorts of conditions under which he would regard such an action as being justified. It was also incumbent upon him to make it clear – given the evident potential for people to assume as much – that he did not mean this to apply to any current states, especially Iran. That he did not do so, and still has not done so, suggests to me either that he actually does mean it to apply to states like that, or that he enjoys revelling in the notoriety that statements like this attract. Neither depicts him in an especially admirable light.

    My question, is why so many people are so keen to bend over backwards to present benign interpretations of Harris’s writings, when he clearly has no interest in doing so himself?

  • jack smith said on April 5, 2013 at 9:37 am

    So Sam, is this guy speaking sensibly about Islam?

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PL1jDcAHkc8

  • John Dickinson said on April 5, 2013 at 10:33 am

    @Jack Smith

    How many times does this have to be addressed.

    You can’t possibly think that he is not using Islamist and Muslim interchangeably. And he wasn’t referring to a particular Islamist state. He said “What will we do if an Islamist regime …”. I could go on, but you are trying to read what you want to into this.

    As someone has already mentioned, Sam has himself said, “I can’t shake the feeling that if I just wrote or spoke more clearly, this sort of thing wouldn’t happen.”. Well, I pity the world – this kind of relentless wilful misinterpretation will never go away, and who knows what the consequence will be.

    Oh, and well done for adding the link to the YouTube video. I only saw that post when I was about to post the above. You can’t possibly think (again) that it somehow relates to what’s being said here. The posting of it says more about you than about Harris. I’m out of here.

    Best wishes everybody. Peace.

  • John Dickinson said on April 5, 2013 at 11:19 am

    Bother. My last post should have said “You can’t possibly think that he is using …” rather than “not using …” (obviously)

    And whilst I’m back I should finish properly my comment about the video link – the video adds nothing to this Harris discussion (also obvious)

  • SimonNorwich said on April 5, 2013 at 12:35 pm

    @ Ahmed – “…ask Sam Harris to clarify his views on the despicable passages from Buddhist scriptures that state that an infidel is the lowest form of life and that killing an infidel isn’t a sin,”

    I think I can confidently speak for Sam Harris that he would condemn ANY scripture that made such a statement.

    No atheist cares about the name of a religion. If Buddhism were the source of the same level of threat that Islam is, no doubt atheists would be as criticial of Buddhism as they are of Islam.

    By the way, it doesn’t do Muslims or Christians any favours that, whenever their religion comes under criticism, they jump up and down and whine about other religions not receiving equal criticism. That is a childish and ridiculous response. Even if other religions were receiving zero criticism, it wouldn’t alleviate Muslims and Christians from their own moral obligation to sort out the problems caused by the religion they support. If Islamic scripture is guilty of threats of violence against infidels and apostates, it is up to Muslims to get rid of those parts of their scripture. Trying to excuse the existence of such threats just because some other religion may have a similar threat, is as ludicrous as a murderer claiming he should escape punishment because he is not the only murderer.

    Every individual and group has a moral obligation to ensure it conducts itself in a civilised manner, regardless of however any other individual or group may behave.

  • Eugene Thomas said on April 5, 2013 at 1:20 pm

    Why have ad hominems replaced reasoned discourse over the concepts presented? Focusing on individuals rather than their ideas is wrongheaded. Why do we seem drawn into these tête-à-têtes like so many fascinated bystanders witnessing a fist fight? Sam Harris is one of many throughout history who have said much the same thing, and it would be just as wrong to worship him as heroic as it is to demonize him. Religionists have always resorted to branding freethinkers and nonconformists as heretics, blasphemers and infidels, and the penalty was public and usually harsh. In today’s “civilized” discourse, people are publicly branded with labels like “racist” or “_phobe” (fill in the blank), in an attempt to destroy their credibility, and thus limit their voice. But when will we turn our attention to the core problem? Will religions, with their so-called holy men and sacred texts, continue to be treated as a protected class, off limits to criticism? Will credulity and faith continue to trump reason, skeptical inquiry and scientific fact?

  • Adam said on April 5, 2013 at 2:02 pm

    @Jack Smith

    “My question, is why so many people are so keen to bend over backwards to present benign interpretations of Harris’s writings, when he clearly has no interest in doing so himself?”

    The answer is, he as answered his critics on these points, many, many times. He’s even set up a separate page on his website dealing with the most common misunderstandings and slanders. But judging by the fact that people like Murtaza and Greenwald continually misrepresent his views, it’s not helping much. But you certainly can’t blame Sam for not trying.

  • jack smith said on April 5, 2013 at 2:57 pm

    Harris has expanded upon his views about torture. He has not done the same in regards to pre-emptive nuclear war.

  • jack smith said on April 5, 2013 at 3:01 pm

    @Hawy

    You state:

    “As for Muslims and their condoning or condemning the sept 11 attacks, Ahmed should know that it is the Western Muslims that largely condemned this attack, the majority of African and Middleeastern Muslims consider Osama a divine hero, some in West Africa even begin to name their kids after the man, prior to the attack, the name was not popular in West Africa. I have visited many Arab countries; I didn’t take a formal survey, but it is obvious that they like Osama.”

    Well, then, here is some actual survey data about Muslim support for bin Laden

    http://www.pewglobal.org/2011/05/02/osama-bin-laden-largely-discredited-among-muslim-publics-in-recent-years/

  • Ahmed said on April 5, 2013 at 3:21 pm

    @Jack,

    I don’t even bother replying to individuals like Hawy, because they’re so dishonest, it ends up being a waste of time.

  • Ahmed said on April 5, 2013 at 3:23 pm

    @FredM,

    You wrote:”[Re 8:60-61, 9:29, 9:123, etc.] “Do you reject the policy of waging war against non-Muslims and imposing Islamic rules and conditions upon them, or not?”

    Yes, I reject that terrible imperialist policy of religious warfare, killing, and subjugation.

    See? Easy-breezy stuff!

    And your responses?”

    You clearly did not read the article I cited, because if you had, you would have seen that those passages from the Qur’an are not about warfare, killing and subjugation. It also makes a mockery of your claims that you have studied Islam in depth independently, and not from websites like Jihad Watch!

    See? So easy to expose you :)

  • P. Cauligi said on April 5, 2013 at 3:48 pm

    Good job with the rebuttal. Very nicely laid out, great clarity. However, I have this to say:

    In reference to Harris’s quote, ‘The people who speak most sensibly about the threat that Islam poses to Europe are actually fascists.’ you said:

    “No. Harris was not citing fascists approvingly. (Good grief!) He was criticizing liberals for getting a moral issue wrong that is so obvious (in his view) that even some extremists — or, as Harris calls them in the same passage, “lunatics” — have figured it out. If I half-jokingly noted ‘Even Hitler saw that vegetarianism was a good idea,’ I would not be citing Hitler approvingly; I would be suggesting that the sanity waterline is very low indeed.”

    Citing fascists to criticize liberals is a bad idea to begin with. “Speaking sensibly” and fascism just don’t go together. “Lunatics” by definition cannot “speak sensibly” so all that they say gets thrown out (as it should be) along with their pronouncements on Islam. Although I get Harris’s point, I can see how it might cause confusion. Words that carry this much emotional baggage can cloud the issue, leaving the reader with the difficult task of teasing the correct meaning out the words.

  • Adam said on April 5, 2013 at 4:03 pm

    @Jack Smith

    “Harris has expanded upon his views about torture. He has not done the same in regards to pre-emptive nuclear war.”

    Why does he need to? I posted the full summary of his “preemptive nuclear war views” above. They are sufficiently comprehensive, and when read in an even fuller context of his book, “The End of Faith,” don’t require an expanded re-treatment.

    It’s also worth pointing out that expanding on his torture views haven’t stopped people from mischaracterizing them anyway.

  • jack smith said on April 5, 2013 at 4:23 pm

    Well, that’s me convinced. Once Iran get’s its nuclear weapons, it’s missle away!!!!!!

  • CGW said on April 5, 2013 at 4:40 pm

    Oops, Ahmed missed my post once again! Tsk, tsk – he should read a bit more carefully.

    As for his latest response to FredM, why does he ignore the question regarding the torture of adulterers so fastidiously?

    His robotic response of “read the article” is wearing thin. FredM is capable of articulating an answer to the question entirely on his own – why can’t YOU, Ahmed?

    Here, I’ll ask again:

    Do you the condemn the torture of adulterers as prescribed by the koran?

    Why is that so impossible for you to answer directly? Could it be that you actually agree with said prescription but are disinclined to admit it?

  • jack smith said on April 5, 2013 at 4:48 pm

    **missiles away!!!**

  • Robby Bensinger said on April 5, 2013 at 5:48 pm

    Cauligi: If a lunatic or fascist says “2 + 2 = 4″ or “the Earth is round”, then he or she is speaking sensibly. I really don’t think that acknowledging such is particularly perverse. Statements are right or wrong, and arguments valid or invalid, independent of the moral and intellectual character of their brain controlling the mouth that emitted them.

  • Lynn Jean said on April 5, 2013 at 5:53 pm

    Murtaza,
    The “leading figures in the new atheist movement are [NOT] heirs to the disreputable racists of the past.” Starting out your article by figuratively dropping, on the NAs (and your reader), the lead-lined crypt containing the 200-year-old mouldering bones of a German scientific racist, serves no useful purpose! Anything “scientific” in the late 18th and very early 19th centuries still had a LOT of problems to iron out! I mean, come on!

    The “new atheists” — I prefer to call them super knowledge-absorbent TOWELS, The Ones Who Eschew Lame-assed Scriptures — are showing us the path to sanity. Yes, for the most part, they’re white guys, but they don’t belong to an exclusive, racist, white-guy club! They do hang out with one another every now and then, but I’m almost certain they don’t pay membership dues to the club you’re shoving them into.

    Here in the 21st century, we have some major dilemmas that desperately need to be addressed. One of them is the need to get through to the Muslim, Christian, and Jewish right-wing nuts who DON’T get that their mind-numbingly, crazy beliefs are hard at work tearing the world to shreds, both, figuratively, and more than a tad literally, although, they can ramp it up, using WMDs, and cause widespread misery to the planet if they’re not more circumspect.

    If you truly are a Toronto-based writer, you don’t live in a “Muslim-majority” country; you live in Canada, where multiculturalism, freedom of speech and religion, are flourishing, albeit with a few glitches now and then. For instance, four young Canadian Muslims recently involved themselves in the oil-field killings that took place in Mali, Africa. I’m sure you’ve heard about this horrific event. Four young Muslim friends, in Canada, where people fall over themselves to be nice and apologize at the drop of a hat for the slightest little things. How did these young men become so radicalized and hate-filled in “Niceland”? I’ll lay odds that these four young men fell in the modern category of Racists! These guys are the ones you should be zeroing in on. Do an honest, in-depth piece on them and you may well find your attitude open to at least reading the works of the “new atheists.” While I’m not sure what your agenda is, your lack of knowledge about atheists, new and old, is embarrassingly obvious. And while you’re at it, read the Bible and the Qu’ran with a critical eye. They’re inundated with poisonous teachings.

    Having been indoctrinated into Protestant Christianity from the age of two, I know how difficult it is to turn your back on the powerful brainwashing that takes place beginning with, seemingly innocent, Bible stories in Sunday School. In this same way, Islam is producing some highly disturbed individuals with very questionable people skills.

    Be a part of the peaceful solution, Nicelander.

  • Benni said on April 5, 2013 at 7:18 pm

    Great article, hat off to you for taking the time and effort. Just reinforces the idea that the real journalists these days are the independent bloggers on the internet, not the overworked, press-release copying “churnalists” working in news corporations

  • Matt F said on April 5, 2013 at 8:28 pm

    I must say, as a devout Baptist/borderline Pentecostal Christian, this is not where I normally hang out. I believe I found my way here via links from a few other sites that hosted the Harris vs Greenwald story, though I cannot say I am disappointed in visiting this page. Robert, after reading your article I have to say it was very well written and constructed, and you did an excellent job in presenting Sam Harris’ position/wording. After scrolling through the comments, I find it utterly remarkable that people like Hussain and Ahmed seem completely unable to grasp the basics of an argument, especially that which you presented. After reading several of the linked articles by Harris, I came to the exact same conclusion as you, though admittedly not as eloquent.

  • Eric Vinyl said on April 5, 2013 at 9:16 pm

    @Danny

    Can you please show where Mr. Harris supported the Iraq war?

  • Ahmed said on April 6, 2013 at 12:29 pm

    @SimonNorwich,

    You wrote: “I think I can confidently speak for Sam Harris that he would condemn ANY scripture that made such a statement.

    No atheist cares about the name of a religion. If Buddhism were the source of the same level of threat that Islam is, no doubt atheists would be as criticial of Buddhism as they are of Islam.

    By the way, it doesn’t do Muslims or Christians any favours that, whenever their religion comes under criticism, they jump up and down and whine about other religions not receiving equal criticism. ”

    There are two points.

    1) Except, Harris has NEVER to my knowledge made criticism of Buddhist theology. On the contrary, he has lavishly praised it – read my post above where I show five quotes from a Harris article where he is so full of praise for the religion.
    It is for this reason I have asked Robby to contact Harris and ask him what his views on the extreme violence in Buddhist scriptures are (because Harris is a lot more likely to address someone like Robby than me). Harris claims that he is willing to criticise all religions – so let him do this then. Let him show the world that he isn’t a bigot. Let him show the world that whilst he might like certain passages of Buddhist theology, he is repulsed by the passages that say an infidel is the lowest form of life and that killing an infidel isn’t a sin.

    2) First of all, I am not jumping up and down, so let’s leave this irrelevant imagery out, and just concentrate on the substance, yes?

    Secondly, I am not asking anyone to criticise Buddhism equally. As I posted above, I find it perfectly normal for someone to detest one religion more than another. I find nothing wrong, if someone honestly thinks Islam is the worst religion out of all. I have no problem with that.

    What I AM asking Harris to do is criticise Buddhism for the horrendous passages it has, because, Harris never has. Currently, Harris has only ever posted articles praising Buddhism. Considering the scriptures contain such horrendous passages, and considering Harris describes himself as someone who hates religious dogma, would you not agree the sensible thing for Harris to do would be to write about the evils of Buddhism too? This would then put to bed once and for all the argument that Harris is tribal, and then instead of people guessing what Harris thinks about Buddhism and the violence in the religion, we will actually know what he feels. Surely Harris owns this to his legions of fans like you, yes?

  • Ahmed said on April 6, 2013 at 12:31 pm

    @MattF,

    Why don’t you elaborate on where I cannot grasp the basics of an argument?

  • Ahmed said on April 6, 2013 at 12:52 pm

    @CGW

    “Oops, Ahmed missed my post once again! Tsk, tsk – he should read a bit more carefully.”

    And it looks like you missed my post!

    “As for his latest response to FredM, why does he ignore the question regarding the torture of adulterers so fastidiously?”
    His robotic response of “read the article” is wearing thin. FredM is capable of articulating an answer to the question entirely on his own – why can’t YOU, Ahmed?”

    Lies again, CGW?

    This is what I wrote to FredM:

    “The answer to one of your questions is in the link that I have provided you. Once you go and read that link, then you can come back to me, and we can have a debate on it. And then once we have debated that, we can then move onto your second question. That sounds pretty fair to me,”

    As I make it perfectly clear, I am willing to debate his second question, I just first need to make sure he is serious in his discussion, and that is why I want him to debate with him the first question first. So the ball is firmly in his court, he can go and read the article, come back to me, show me what in that article he disagrees with, we can then debate that, and then we can move onto his second question. So your claims that I am not willing to debate torture in Islam with FredM is an outright lie.

  • Ahmed said on April 6, 2013 at 1:13 pm

    Robby wrote: “If a lunatic or fascist says “2 + 2 = 4″ or “the Earth is round”, then he or she is speaking sensibly. I really don’t think that acknowledging such is particularly perverse. Statements are right or wrong, and arguments valid or invalid, independent of the moral and intellectual character of their brain controlling the mouth that emitted them.”

    Before I go any further, let us, for the last time, make it clear that Harris did not call the fascists “lunatics. Harris writes that the Christian Right in America are lunatics. He doesn’t write that European fascists are. The Christian Right and European fascists have very different views. The Christian Right don’t care about immigration, and they do not care about people based on race – all they care is that the person is Christian. So if ten million devout black Christians came from Africa to America, the Christian Right would WELCOME them. The European fascists don’t really care about religion (although they like to identify with it for tribal reasons). If ten million devout African Christians came to their country, they would be horrified. So let’s not play games Robby, let’s make it clear, there is a HUGE difference between the Christian Right in America and European fascists, and to suggest that because Harris called the Christian Right in America lunatics, it also means he called the European fascists lunatics is a ridiculous attempt to try and protect Harris from criticism.

    Anyway, Robby, to address your point. If the fascist also says that 1+1=6, would you still say that they are speaking sensibly about Maths just because they also said 2+2=4. No, you will not. If Hitler said that there is a danger from some Jews because they think that non-Jews are goyim (like cattle), would you say Hitler speaks sensibly about Jews. No, because although Hitler would be right that there is some danger from a terribly small minority of Jews who look down upon others and consider themselves superior, everything else of what he said about Jews was clearly not sensible.
    Similarly, just because the European fascists make some valid claims about the threat of Islamic extremism, does it mean we should say they are the only ones in Europe speaking about the threat of Islam? Even when a lot of what they say is outright lies and hate speech, and considering that people have been killed by European fascists because of the hatred that the European fascists have espoused.

    So, yes, when people criticise Harris for the remark he made about European fascists and Muslims, it is because it is a highly irresponsible remake to make, and instead of trying to be an apologist for Harris, you would get a lot more credibility if you acknowledged what a truly “dangerous” remark this was.

  • notfollowing said on April 6, 2013 at 3:08 pm

    @Ahmed,

    FredM 1st question was about the policy of waging war against non-Muslims and imposing Islamic rules and conditions as referenced in the Qur’an. You’re pointing to an article (yes I’ve read it) that argues that there is no (longer) unequal treatment of non-muslims in the muslim’s countries/rules, and that such unequal treatment wasn’t practiced in the time of the prophet. I fail to see how your agreement on that article answer the original question, because even if the rules are imposed equally to all subjects, they’re still imposed. And that article doesn’t deal with waging wars at all, unlike (surprise) the literal text of the Qur’an that FredM referred to.

  • Ahmed said on April 6, 2013 at 3:42 pm

    Just to correct a sentence in my last post where I omitted the word “sensibly”.

    I wrote: “Similarly, just because the European fascists make some valid claims about the threat of Islamic extremism, does it mean we should say they are the only ones in Europe speaking about the threat of Islam? ”

    What I meant to write was: “Similarly, just because the European fascists make some valid claims about the threat of Islamic extremism, does it mean we should say they are the only ones in Europe speaking SENSIBLY about the threat of Islam? “

  • CGW said on April 6, 2013 at 3:45 pm

    @Ahmed

    OK, now I, not FredM, am asking you one single, straightforward question. Please do not outsource your response to an article written by someone else. State you opinion/belief in your own words.

    Do you condemn the torture of adulterers as outlined by the koran?

  • Fred M said on April 6, 2013 at 6:04 pm

    Thanks, CGW.

    Note on the distinction between fornication and adultery: Although some translators interpret zina (illicit sex) in 24:2 as “adultery” and others interpret it as “fornication,” most Muslim scholars and jurists interpret it as the latter, in significant part because the distinction is clarified in the Hadith, where Muhammad orders adulterers to be stoned to death, whereas he orders that fornicators are to be whipped with 100 stripes (and banished for a year). On this distinction, in classical Islamic law, and by the Qur’an and Hadith, a Muslim man is legally permitted to have sex with his four current wives (4:3) and an unspecified number of non-Muslim female “right hand possessions” (slaves, captives) that he currently owns. If he is married and has sex with anyone besides his current wives or current female right hand possessions, he has committed adultery. If he is unmarried and has sex with anyone other than his own female right hand possessions (if he has any), then he has committed fornication. If a married Muslim female has sex with anyone other than her husband (who must be a Muslim, according to Islamic law), she has committed adultery. If she has sex before marriage and consented freely to it, then she has committed fornication. Hope that clears things up!

    How about it Ahmed? Answer the first question about the Qur’an’s punishment for fornication (24:2), which entails a “merciless” or “pitiless” application of torture by whipping a male or female with 100 stripes. It should be easy for you to reject that. Why don’t you?

    Note: my original questions, for Murtaza (who quickly disappeared) and Ahmed, pertaining to the use of torture, and to wiping out (by killing) and subjugating people, were asked with the hopes of exploring whether or not Murtaza, Ahmed, and other defenders of Islam would also show their abhorrence and disgust for torture and wiping people out when these actions are approved and indeed commanded in the Qur’an, as they did when they attacked Harris over his allegedly problematic approval for these policies. This was originally intended as an assessment of Murtaza’s moral consistency viz. his attack on Harris, not as an exploration or debate on the Islamic texts or laws per se.

    Also, Ahmed claims to me: “You clearly did not read the article I cited, because if you had, you would have seen that those passages from the Qur’an are not about warfare, killing and subjugation.”

    For those who may be interested, here are two of the many verses I cited which Ahmed claims are not about warfare, killing, or subjugation (note that the Arabic word for “fight” uses the root form q-t-l, which in these contexts refers to actual killing):

    9:29
    “Fight against such of those who have been given the Scripture as believe not in Allah nor the Last Day, and forbid not that which Allah hath forbidden by His messenger, and follow not the Religion of Truth, until they pay the tribute readily, being brought low.”
    http://tanzil.net/#trans/en.pickthall/9:29
    Word-by-word translation:
    http://corpus.quran.com/wordbyword.jsp?chapter=9&verse=29

    The verse 9:29, along with the Hadith, is one of the verses that provides the basis in Islamic law for religious warfare against non-Muslims and the imposition of the dhimma terms of surrender on them and the extraction of the jizya (“tribute”) from them.

    9:123
    “O ye who believe! Fight those of the disbelievers who are near to you, and let them find harshness in you, and know that Allah is with those who keep their duty (unto Him)”
    http://tanzil.net/#trans/en.pickthall/9:123
    Word-by-word translation:
    http://corpus.quran.com/wordbyword.jsp?chapter=9&verse=123

    I can provide much, much more, but I am reluctant to further test the patience of the blog author Robby and the readers, who probably want to keep things relevant to the blog post. As I’ve said, Ahmed is apparently attempting to send people on a wild goose chase, instead of simply answering the questions forthrightly and succinctly for himself.

  • Ahmed said on April 6, 2013 at 6:20 pm

    @CGW,

    OK, now that we have got past your dishonest slander that I was avoiding answering FredM because I secretly endorse torture, we can have a debate. The thing is, I did not really want to have a debate about Islamic doctrine in this thread, because, Islamic doctrine isn’t what this thread is about. This thread is about Sam Harris, and whether he is an Islamophobe. So discussing Islamic doctrine is off-topic, but I will discuss it here, for the simple reason that I will expose some hypocrisy.

    Below is what Fred M said about Islam and torture:

    “That said, the Qur’an instructs Muslims to use torture in the form of punishment in 5:33, see execution, crucifixion, or cutting off the hand and foot on opposite sides, real-world torture to be followed up in a threatened afterlife punishment of torture in the fires of hell (5:33-37; also described in hundreds of other verses). I would also consider the prescribed amputation of the thief’s hand to be a form of torture (5:38), and the prescribed whipping of 100 lashes to be delivered “without mercy” to those males and females judged guilty of sex outside marriage (24:2) seems like torture, as does the 80 stripes for those who commit “slander” (24:4).”

    Let us look at this line by line.

    “That said, the Qur’an instructs Muslims to use torture in the form of punishment in 5:33″

    I think it is better if we read the actual quote from the Qur’an, as opposed to what Fred M wrote. The passage states “Indeed, the penalty for those who wage war against Allah and His Messenger and strive upon earth [to cause] corruption is none but that they be killed or crucified or that their hands and feet be cut off from opposite sides or that they be exiled from the land. That is for them a disgrace in this world; and for them in the Hereafter is a great punishment”.
    So this passage is referring to those who are waging war against you. Now, if the Taliban wage war against Americans, you’re very happy to blow them to bits, you’re happy to kill them even when they have their family members with them (as has happened numerous times before), you’re happy to use vacuum bombs, which, if they don’t kill you, will leave you with horrific injuries and a slow and painful death. So the first thing to do is acknowledge that it is hardly as if we in the secular West have a problem with “torturing” those who wage war against us.
    The second point is, the verse gives four options, to kill those who wage war against you, to crucify them, to chop their hands and feet off from alternative sides, or to ask them to leave the land. Now as I am a pacifist, and as I dislike killing and do not like torture, my personal opinion is that the first three should not be carried out. In fact, there is no record of Mohammed or any of the early Muslims ever having chopped off the arms and legs off someone on alternative sides. So to answer your question, the Qur’an gives four options, and I would say the first three should not be carried out, and instead, we should expel someone who is waging war against you.

    “real-world torture to be followed up in a threatened afterlife punishment of torture in the fires of hell (5:33-37; also described in hundreds of other verses).”

    Yes, but isn’t only the Qur’an which talks of torture after you die. The Bible is full of it. And in Janism, a religion which Sam Harris calls really peaceful, one can be in hell for up to a billion years and suffer greatly. Buddhism, a religion who Sam Harris is full of praise of, talks about Hell and suffering.
    In any case, the Qur’an also states that God can forgive anyone he likes, that Hell is eternal but if God wishes, he can take anyone out. So it can easily be interpreted that Hell is a deterrent more than anything else.

    “I would also consider the prescribed amputation of the thief’s hand to be a form of torture (5:38)”.

    The actual verse states: “[As for] the thief, the male and the female, amputate their hands in recompense for what they committed as a deterrent [punishment] from Allah . And Allah is Exalted in Might and Wise.”

    It is clearly stated in Islamic doctrine that you should not amputate the hand of someone who is stealing out of necessity (i.e. they have no food to eat, and so they steal food). But do I think this punishment is harsh? Yes, I do, and I personally would not like to see anyone’s hand chopped off. At the same time, what punishment should we give to someone who steals? Look at Bernie Madoff, at the age of 71 he was sentenced to 150 years in prison for stealing. This means he will die in prison. Is this not torture? What is worse, having your hand chopped off, or spending the rest of your life in prison? Under Islamic Law, Bernie Madoff would be a free man today with a hand missing. Under the civilised Western democracy, he is going to die in prison. Now let’s be honest, if someone was asked would they have their hand chopped off or spend 150 years in prison, I am sure the majority of people would opt to have their hand chopped off. So, in some instances, the Islamic punishment is less torturous than the one given out by a secular Western state.

    Just to make it clear (because I know people like to spin words), I am not saying chopping someone’s hand off for stealing is not a harsh and painful punishment. It is. What I am saying is, punishment is meant to be a deterrent and is meant to be harsh. But why the hypocrisy when it comes to harsh penalties in Islam – why not criticism of harsh penalties in America? America has the highest incarceration rate in the world. In America, you can go to prison for 25 years for stealing a pizza if you have two felony convictions against you before.

    http://www.sfgate.com/news/article/Stealing-one-slice-of-pizza-results-in-life-3150629.php

    In America, you can go to prison for 55 years for selling drugs.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Weldon_Angelos_case

    These punishments are torture, so will Fred M and you come out and say how horrified you are that America has such barbaric punishments?

    “and the prescribed whipping of 100 lashes to be delivered “without mercy” to those males and females judged guilty of sex outside marriage (24:2) seems like torture, as does the 80 stripes for those who commit “slander” (24:4).”

    These are harsh punishments. Again, the punishment is meant to be a deterrent, and so the punishment is meant to be harsh. That is the whole point of punishment, to deter. Now of course we in the West do not consider sex before marriage to be a sin, but in Islam it is, (for the reason that Islam saw it as killing the moral fabric of society, because it could result in a society where people slept around and so when they got married, they would not be faithful, and this cause a lot of hurt in their marriage) and therefore, in Islam it carries a punishment.
    To make a comparison, let’s take a crime in the West that can cause a lot of hassle and hurt. Let’s take vandalism. The law in California states someone can spend between 1 and 3 years in jail for it.

    http://www.shouselaw.com/vandalism.html

    Now if I had committed vandalism, and someone gave me the option of being lashed a 100 times, or spending three years of my life in jail, I would rather get lashed – yes, it would be painful, but I would be up and running within a few months. In contrast, spending 3 years of my life will be complete torture.

    So there you have it. Yes, I think some of the punishments in Islam are very harsh, but let us be honest, and admit that some of the punishments in secular Western democracies can be even more harsh (or to borrow Fred M’s term, even more torturous).

  • vinella said on April 6, 2013 at 7:12 pm

    excellent post Robby Bensinger … if only people could operate honestly and acknowledge when a particular issue has been clearly won or lost … without constantly changing the subject to conflate everything and confuse everyone

  • Edgardo said on April 6, 2013 at 8:26 pm

    @Ahmed

    Oh for cryin’ in a bucket! Harris did not say European fascists are the only ones in Europe speaking sensibly about the threat of Islam. He said they are “the people who speak most sensibly about the threat that Islam poses to Europe.” That’s semantically very different in at least two ways.

    I’m not sure I agree with Harris there, but, good grief! (h/t Robby) you do goad the rational reader to descend into the ad hominem gutter.

  • Fred M said on April 6, 2013 at 9:35 pm

    A few more things relevant to this debate:

    Harris is often accused of supporting the war against Iraq. I’ve read a lot of Harris, and I’ve never seen him support that war. In a recent tweet, Harris denies that supported it, but points to suggestions that Glenn Greenwald initially supported it.

    Greenwald posted a response from Murtaza Hussain to the article by Robby above.
    http://ggsidedocs.blogspot.com.br/2013/04/murtaza-hussain-replies-to-harris-and.html

    In it, Murtaza, while attacking Robby and Harris, claims

    “I’m a traditional liberal Muslim who despises extremism of all types.”

    In that case, Murtaza, you should despise the extremism in 24:2 (torturing fornicators with whipping of 100 stripes delivered “without mercy”), and wiping people out and subjugating them in deadly religious warfare (9:29, 9:123, 8:39-40, 9:5-6, etc.).

    “If you like Harris for his neuroscience work”

    I’m unimpressed by his minimal and mediocre knowledge of neuroscience.

    “…or his work arguing against the existence of God; good for you. Even though I disagree on the latter point I think it is a subject worthy of continuous debate and – to burn this strawman for the millionth time – it is never bigoted to criticize ideas, including Islam.”

    I again ask you, provide me with the names of people you consider to be reasonable and fair critics of Islam. As I found, see above, Stedman is not a critic of Islam, and PZ Myers says explicitly that he views on Islam are the same as Harris’ (which you consider unfair and unreasonable).

    “Although Harris is unfortunately a deeply dishonest intellectual who has made a career of “quote-mining” the Quran (something he, without apparent irony, accused me of doing to him), this is not what is perfidious about him.”

    This would be ironic if it could be shown that Harris has misrepresented the Qur’an. That remains to be seen. Also, how can someone be accused of quote-mining verses such as 24:2, which calls for the violent punishment and torture of people who freely have consensual sex with each other outside of marriage? What context could possibly mitigate this?

    Murtaza?…..where are you, Murtaza?

  • Fred M said on April 6, 2013 at 9:43 pm

    This question in my previous post is addressed to Murtaza:

    I again ask you, provide me with the names of people you consider to be reasonable and fair critics of Islam. As I found, see above, Stedman is not a critic of Islam, and PZ Myers says explicitly that [his] views on Islam are the same as Harris’ (which you consider unfair and unreasonable).

    I would ask Ahmed also, but he’s already diligently working on my other two questions, so I will not tax him further than that.

  • Ahmed said on April 6, 2013 at 11:14 pm

    Fred M,

    I have answered your question on subjugating people by telling you to go and read an article, whose views I said I completely endorse. I asked you to come back for further discussion, but you still have not.

    I also said I will answer your second question once we have discussed your first. However, as another reader was so obsessed with getting an answer to that question, I have already answered it. So I look forward to your response.

    As for Harris not having ever supported the Iraq War, I cannot find any quote of his where he says he opposed it. I can however find claims where Harris said that civilised Westerners are trying to improve the lives of the Iraqi people. Taken into context with everything else Harris has said about our War with Islam, it seems that Harris, at best, did not want us to go to war but at the same time, did not think we should not go to war, and at worst, he actually supported going to war with Iraq, but never publicly proclaimed it.

  • Ahmed said on April 6, 2013 at 11:19 pm

    @Edgardo,

    “Oh for cryin’ in a bucket! Harris did not say European fascists are the only ones in Europe speaking sensibly about the threat of Islam. He said they are “the people who speak most sensibly about the threat that Islam poses to Europe.” That’s semantically very different in at least two ways.”

    Ok, I stand corrected, yes, Harris did not say they’re the only ones. My mistake in being sloppy when quoting him.

    It still does not change the merit of my point, namely, Robby’s defense of his quote is very weak.

  • Fred M said on April 6, 2013 at 11:24 pm

    Ahmed,

    re your comment to CGW at April 6th, 2013 at 6:20 PM:

    I will put aside for the moment some of your errors and important omissions regarding the Qur’an and the words and deeds of Muhammad and the companions (as reported in the Hadith and Sira, and later drawn upon in the formulation of Islamic laws), and your diversion into the issue of prison term lengths for some crimes in the U.S.

    Am I to take from your post, where you repeatedly refer to the punishments in the Qur’an (5:33, 5:38, 24:2, etc.) as “harsh,” that

    (1) you regard these punishments (amputations, whipping “without mercy,” etc.) as fitting the definition of torture?
    and
    (2) you reject these punishments which involve torture?

    I ask, because your response seems ambivalent at best. You seem to be justifying these forms of punishment, possibly defending the view that they are “harsh” but fair.

  • RadioFreeThinker said on April 6, 2013 at 11:28 pm

    I think the attacks on Hitchens were poorly focused…ie he became a republican war hawk. I think the attack on Dawkins a complete hatchet job. But Sam Harris?

    He is a…racist? Bigot? war mongering gun happy hyper conservative…yes!! and yes, also an atheist, don’t confuse the former.

    check out this:

    http://radiofreethinker.com/2012/05/08/radio-freethinker-episode-165-profiling-sam-harris-edition/

  • CGW said on April 7, 2013 at 12:22 am

    @Ahmed

    Punishments by disparate governments/societies are irrelevant to the question I posed and are deflection by way of a tu quoque argument.

    If, as you imply, you categorically condemn torture, then answer the questions specifically (A simple “yes” or “no”, without qualifiers, will do.):

    Do you, or do you not, CONDEMN the torture for fornicators as prescribed by the koran?

    I repeat, pointing out [by way of tu quoque arguments] which punishments are inflicted upon transgressors by the Bible, Western societies, etc. are of no consequence, as you and I are just as able to reject and condemn those as well. The simple fact of their existence IN NO WAY makes islamic punishments more acceptable.

    islamic scholars frequently aver that the koran’s prescriptions are valid FOR ALL TME and IN ALL PLACES. As a muslim, you are actually not at all free to CONDEMN any of the koran’s prescriptions, as doing so would be blasphemy, correct? So saying that you wouldn’t like to see it applied is not the same as answering the question unequivocally. Do you condemn it, yes or no?

    Another question:

    Do you consider the use of “panty-hats”
    (http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/a/ab/Abu_Ghraib_63.jpg) and “butt-pyramids” (http://sheikyermami.com/wp-content/uploads/abu-ghraib.jpg , http://www.american-buddha.com/taxidark.93c.jpg) at Abu Ghraib to be “torture”? No physical harm was inflicted by these two methods, and they were definitely used as “deterrence” by way of humiliation. Would physical torture of theses individuals have been preferable to what they experienced, in your opinion? If so, what would be an acceptable replacement, and which acceptable equivalent of islamic “torture” should have been meted out in their place?

  • CGW said on April 7, 2013 at 12:36 am

    @Ahmed

    BTW, I believe that the reason FredM brought up the subject of torture and subjugation in islamic doctrine was not solely for the purpose of discussing said doctrine in and of itself, but to expose YOUR hypocrisy for claiming that Harris broadly supports and advocates the torture of muslims and the preemptive extermination of muslim populations. He was pointing out that ISLAM ITSELF supports and advocates the torture of muslims and the preemptive extermination of non-muslim populations. You are the muslim pot calling the kettle Harris black.

    Correct me if I’m wrong FredM.

  • CGW said on April 7, 2013 at 12:38 am

    @FredM

    Thanks for your input, Fred. Like you, I have been studying islam for quite awhile – in my case, going on eleven years now.

    Cheers.

  • CGW said on April 7, 2013 at 1:07 am

    @Ahmed

    I believe that, in your response to FredM’s question above you [unsuccessfully] tried to divert attention from koran 9:123 by specifying “those who are fighting against you” (citing 5:33), which designation 9:123 does not include.

    There are numerous koranic injunctions commanding the subjugation and killing of non-muslims for no other reason than that they are “disbelievers”, 8:12, 9:39 and 9:5 to name just a few.

    Western nations fighting against muslim terrorist tactics (and against such groups as al qaeda) kill to preserve their PHYSICAL societal safety and integrity, not to propagate a pseudo-religious ideology.

    As a pacifist, do you then CONDEMN those passages of the koran which call for the subjugation and killing of an ideological enemy who may not pose any physical threat?

  • Fred M said on April 7, 2013 at 1:15 am

    CGW,

    That’s right, the point of my questions was to assess Murtaza’s (and then Ahmed’s) moral consistency on the issues of torture and wiping out or subjugating people, i.e., would they condemn these kinds of things when found in the Qur’an, as they did when condemning Harris’ alleged support for such policies of the U.S.?

    After all this, I still await an adequately clear response from Ahmed, and I have all but given up on Murtaza, who is probably already busy working on his next hatchet job on some other prominent Islam critic.

  • Fred M said on April 7, 2013 at 3:13 am

    The enlightened and tolerant Murtaza Hussain uses “learning disability” slur to insult opponent on twitter. https://twitter.com/MazMHussain/status/320566907218563072

    Here it is:
    “Murtaza Hussain ‏@MazMHussain
    @jacobinism @dan_verg_ Don’t know if you didn’t read his Tweet or mb you have some kind of learning disability – either way I’m done w/ you.
    9:01 AM – 6 Apr 13″

    You still want to support this bigot, Ahmed?

  • Ahmed said on April 7, 2013 at 8:41 am

    @CGW,

    “Punishments by disparate governments/societies are irrelevant to the question I posed and are deflection by way of a tu quoque argument.”

    ‘tu quoque’ is one of Robert Spencer’s favourite phrases, so, yes, it does seem that your Islamic scholarly comes from Jihad Watch!

    “If, as you imply, you categorically condemn torture, then answer the questions specifically (A simple “yes” or “no”, without qualifiers, will do.):

    Do you, or do you not, CONDEMN the torture for fornicators as prescribed by the koran?”

    To say that something has to have a “yes” or “no” answer is one of the weakest arguments I have ever heard. It’s like saying to someone you must answer yes or no as to whether God exists – what if the person thinks that God might exist? What nonsensical logic you have.

    I stated my case clearly, I do not think it is right to torture someone to gain information from them. But I think people should be punished for crimes, however, I think the punishment should be for corrective reasons, and should not be harsh. So if the Qur’an states that someone should be flogged a hundred times, I think it should be done lightly, so as not to inflict pain. The Qur’an doesn’t state how hard the flogging should be, only that it should be carried out and not pardoned.

    Now, let me ask you, do you consider America’s incarceration system to be systematic torture of upward of a million individuals?

  • Ahmed said on April 7, 2013 at 8:44 am

    @CGW,

    “Thanks for your input, Fred. Like you, I have been studying islam for quite awhile – in my case, going on eleven years now.”

    From Jihad Watch! ;) A bit someone studying Judaism from a Nazi website!

  • Ahmed said on April 7, 2013 at 8:51 am

    @Fred M,

    I have already shown you that wiping out non-Muslims is not part of Islamic doctrine, that the verses you take are out of context, It might be a little hard for you to understand, so let me clarify it for you.

    If America is at War with the Taliban, and the American Military states sends a memo to it’s troops to find and exterminate the Taliban wherever you fight them, it does not mean that the Americans should exterminate the Taliban at ALL times. If ten years later a peace deal has been made, it would be nonsensical for someone to take a copy of a memo that is ten years old, and say, “hey, look, Americans want to exterminate Taliban”.

    Similarly, all the verses in the Qur’an that talk about killing infidels were not blanket statements for all time. They were in specific instances where the Muslims were being attacked. It’s funny how people like you and Robert Spencer never mention the fact that the Muslims were a persecuted minority and that THEY used to be attacked and killed. You make it look like they were really powerful and destroying peaceful, pacifist people, when in fact, they were always at war with people who wanted to wipe them out. So, yes, you’re a really dishonest individual who only reads anti-Islamic websites to get a biased view that meets with your pre-determined agenda that you dislike Islam, and never read any Islamic arguments. If you were honest, you would read both anti-Islamic viewpoints and Islamic viewpoints, and then come to a conclusion. Instead, you already choose your conclusion (Islam is evil and wants to conquer everyone), and then read websites that try and argue the same. So you’re clearly intellectually dishonest.

  • Ahmed said on April 7, 2013 at 8:53 am

    @FredM,

    “You still want to support this bigot, Ahmed?”

    Seriously, Fred, how old are you?

    I don’t read Murtaza Hussain, I read Glenn Greenwald. That is why I came here, because of Glenn. I agreed with one point that Murtaza made, it doesn’t mean I endorse his views on anything else.

  • Ahmed said on April 7, 2013 at 9:27 am

    “How about it Ahmed? Answer the first question about the Qur’an’s punishment for fornication (24:2), which entails a “merciless” or “pitiless” application of torture by whipping a male or female with 100 stripes. It should be easy for you to reject that. Why don’t you?”

    Again, trying to put some spin. Fred M?

    The way you have written it, one would think that the Qur’an is saying that one should lash the people really hard and show them no mercy or pity. In fact, the Qur’an is stating that one should not show mercy or pity in not applying the punishment. In other words, they should be punished, and don’t let them off. It doesn’t however say how hard they should be whipped.

    So you ask me for my opinion, so here it is – I think they should be whipped lightly so they don’t suffer. I think the punishment should be symbolic in nature. There, you have it.

    Now will you be a good kid and answer my question – why is your Islamic knowledge from anti-Islamic websites, why do you refuse to read both the anti and pro Islamic viewpoint before coming to a decision, why do you insist on just reading one viewpoint? Could it be because you’re intellectually dishonest?

  • Fred M said on April 7, 2013 at 10:14 am

    Ahmed,

    “To say that something has to have a “yes” or “no” answer is one of the weakest arguments I have ever heard.”

    I simply asked for a clear answer, a decision. It is probably difficult for readers to understand how you can’t seem to bring yourself to reject this appalling verse. The answer you’ve given most recently, if I understand you correctly, is that you support the whipping of 100 stripes in 24:2, but you say that this should be done in a way that is not painful, but at the same time it should be a deterrent. But if it is not painful, and not humiliating, then how is it going to be a deterrent? And if you don’t want it to be a painful and humiliating punishment, then why do you insist on keeping the punishment of 100 stripes? Why not reject it altogether? Aside from the logical problems with your suggestion, the verse itself commands that the Muslim who is administering the whipping should not let pity/mercy/compassion/kindness/tenderness influence him, which contradicts your attempt to soften the punishment.
    24:2 “The fornicatress and the fornicator — scourge each one of them a hundred stripes, and in the matter of God’s religion let no tenderness for them seize you if you believe in God and the Last Day; and let a party of the believers witness their chastisement”
    http://tanzil.net/#trans/en.arberry/24:2
    Word-by-word translation:
    http://corpus.quran.com/wordbyword.jsp?chapter=24&verse=2

    FYI, torture is defined as follows:
    (American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language)
    “Infliction of severe physical pain as a means of punishment or coercion.
    An instrument or a method for inflicting such pain.
    Excruciating physical or mental pain; agony: the torture of waiting in suspense.
    Something causing severe pain or anguish.”

    Whipping of 100 stripes without mercy is definitely a form of torture.

    One of your underlying assumptions appears to be that you believe that sex between two freely consenting adults is seriously morally wrong if they are not married to each other, right? Otherwise, why try to deter them by whipping them and making examples of them for others to see, right?

    Re your discussion of the verses of fighting (9:29, 9:123, 8:39-40, 9:12-14, etc.), am I to take it then that you are a pacifist (as you claim in previous comments above), and yet you think those verses of fighting and killing in religious warfare are justified? How can you claim to be a pacifist, and at the same time defend verses commanding religious warfare and killing and subjugation?

  • Fred M said on April 7, 2013 at 10:29 am

    Ahmed,

    “In fact, the Qur’an is stating that one should not show mercy or pity in not applying the punishment.”

    If you believe that interpretation, then you are admitting that withholding the administration of 100 stripes would be an act of mercy/pity/compassion. Why? In this case, it would only be an act of mercy to withhold something painful, not a punishment without pain or minimal pain. Either way, the verse implies that 100 stripes is a painful punishment, and it is humiliating as it commands that a party of the believers should watch as spectators. In fact, in practice, some people in modern times have had the flesh torn off their backs, and some have actually died from this punishment.
    So why not reject the verse and embrace pity/compassion? It’s your choice: You can accept the Qur’an’s command in 24:2, or you can embrace compassion/mercy; you cannot logically have both in this case.

  • Fred M said on April 7, 2013 at 11:07 am

    Ahmed,

    Speaking of gentleness, how do you propose to kill, crucify, amputate the arm and leg on opposite sides, or banish someone “gently” (5:33)? How do you gently amputate a hand? (5:38)? How do you ensure that the amputee has no experience of phantom limb pain, to make sure his experience subsequent to the amputation is pain-free? How do you propose to gently kill those among People of the Book (primarily those of Christian or Jewish background) who peacefully refuse to convert to Islam and who peacefully refuse the terms of surrender imposed upon them in the dhimma pact (9:29)? How do you gently ensure that the dhimmi Christians and Jews (and others) keep paying the jizya (as commanded in 9:29) and make sure that they don’t criticize Islam or Muhammad? How do you, a pacifist, gently ensure that the dhimmis don’t try to escape to non-Muslim territory, or have a violent uprising against the Muslim authority? How do you strike off the heads, fingertips, and toes, of the enemy, gently (8:12)? How do “strike terror” into the hearts of the unbelievers, gently (8:60)? How do you make slaughter in the land gently (8:67)?

  • Fred M said on April 7, 2013 at 12:18 pm

    Ahmed,

    “Now as I am a pacifist, and as I dislike killing”

    Do you then reject this verse:

    2:216: “Prescribed for you is fighting, though it be hateful to you. Yet it may happen that you will hate a thing which is better for you; and it may happen that you will love a thing which is worse for you; God knows, and you know not.”
    http://tanzil.net/#trans/en.arberry/2:216
    Word-by-word translation:
    http://corpus.quran.com/wordbyword.jsp?chapter=2&verse=216
    So in your view is the Qur’an wrong here? Or is the fighting (q-t-l, killing) gentle too? And if it is gentle, why does the Qur’an’s author seem to think the audience “hates” it?

    “…and do not like torture, my personal opinion is that the first three [punishments in 5:33] should not be carried out.”

    Even though the Qur’an orders them; the severity of the punishment depends on the severity of the crime according to Islam (see below). Why would the author of the Qur’an put those punishments there, only so that you can reject them and choose banishment instead?

    “In fact, there is no record of Mohammed or any of the early Muslims ever having chopped off the arms and legs off someone on alternative sides.”

    I take it from this you are admitting that you consider the Hadith to be an authoritative source which guides your judgement; otherwise, why even refer to it in attempting to support your claim?

    Anyways, your denial is misleading by omission. Here is one of the purported relevant contexts for this verse 5:33, from the Hadith (cited in Ibn Kathir):

    “[...] Al-Bukhari and Muslim recorded that Abu Qilabah `Abdullah bin Zayd Al-Jarmi, said that Anas bin Malik said, “Eight people of the `Ukl tribe came to the Messenger of Allah and gave him their pledge to follow Islam. Al-Madinah’s climate did not suit them and they became sick and complained to Allah’s Messenger . So he said,
    (Go with our shephard to be treated by the milk and urine of his camels.) So they went as directed, and after they drank from the camels’ milk and urine, they became healthy, and they killed the shepherd and drove away all the camels. The news reached the Prophet and he sent (men) in their pursuit and they were captured. He then ordered that their hands and feet be cut off (and it was done), and their eyes were branded with heated pieces of iron. Next, they were put in the sun until they died.” This is the wording of Muslim. In another narration for this Hadith, it was mentioned that these people were from the tribes of `Ukl or `Uraynah. Another narration reported that these people were put in the Harrah area (of Al-Madinah), and when they asked for water, no water was given to them. Allah said, (they shall be killed or crucified or their hands and their feet be cut off on the opposite sides, or be exiled from the land.) [...]”
    http://www.qtafsir.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=784&Itemid=60

    So Muhammad had their hands and feet cut off (and included additional cruel torturous elements that did not make their way into 5:33), whereas the Qur’an specifies more precisely that the hand and foot on opposite sides should be cut off.

    Other tafsirs discuss the range of punishments in 5:33, see http://www.altafsir.com/Al-Jalalayn.asp

  • Ahmed said on April 7, 2013 at 1:42 pm

    @FredM,

    You can’t have it all your own way. Why should I have to answer your questions and you not answer mine? Let’s have you answer my question, don’t ignore it, here it is again:

    “Now will you be a good kid and answer my question – why is your Islamic knowledge from anti-Islamic websites, why do you refuse to read both the anti and pro Islamic viewpoint before coming to a decision, why do you insist on just reading one viewpoint? Could it be because you’re intellectually dishonest?”

    And how about this post from me which you totally ignore:

    “Similarly, all the verses in the Qur’an that talk about killing infidels were not blanket statements for all time. They were in specific instances where the Muslims were being attacked. It’s funny how people like you and Robert Spencer never mention the fact that the Muslims were a persecuted minority and that THEY used to be attacked and killed. You make it look like they were really powerful and destroying peaceful, pacifist people, when in fact, they were always at war with people who wanted to wipe them out. So, yes, you’re a really dishonest individual who only reads anti-Islamic websites to get a biased view that meets with your pre-determined agenda that you dislike Islam, and never read any Islamic arguments. If you were honest, you would read both anti-Islamic viewpoints and Islamic viewpoints, and then come to a conclusion. Instead, you already choose your conclusion (Islam is evil and wants to conquer everyone), and then read websites that try and argue the same. So you’re clearly intellectually dishonest.”

    Anyway, Fred M, you have spoilt this thread. The thread wasn’t about Islam and its doctrine – there are literally hundreds of thousands of websites that have already discussed that. This thread was about Sam Harris and whether he is rightly being criticised. But you, with all the brainwashing that has happened to you by reading only anti-Islamic websites (and then having to come on here and lie that you have studied the Quran and Arabic – you haven’t studied Arabic, you cannot speak it, and I can test you on it on here, but you state you have to try and make it seem you have more credibility and scholarly credentials about Islam (I used to see people saying it all the time on FOX News forum, and it was always hilarious when I started speaking to them in Arabic and suddenly they would not have a clue as to what I was saying!!!)), feel obliged to change the topic every time onto The Qur’an.

    Just to clarify for the last time, I have no problem with someone having criticisms of Islam or Mohammed or anything. I have no problem with someone thinking Islam is worse than any other religion. I know some people who have read both pro and anti Islamic viewpoints, and come to a disfavourable view of Islam – I have no problem with that. One of the reason being, I myself have criticisms of some of the orthodox schools of Islamic Jurisprudence! I have criticisms of the way they have interpreted many things.
    Of course, this is all alien to you. You think one cannot be a practising Muslim following the same orthodox texts that al Qaeda follow, and come to very different conclusions than they do. This is because you have only ever read one side of the argument about Islam, the side that is criticial of it. You have not, and will not, read the Islamic answers to those criticisms, because you’re not interested in honest debate. Unlike a scientist, who first reads everything in front of them, and then comes to a conclusion, you have formed your conclusion first, and then read things which you think reaffirm that conclusion. Anything that might shatter it, you will not even read. That is why you refused to read the links I provided on Dhimmitude.

    http://www.loonwatch.com/2010/05/do-muslims-want-to-reimpose-dhimmitude-or-live-as-equals/

    You remind me a bit of some Islamic Imams I know. They will always only read articles about Islam that praise it. They will never read anything that criticses it. This is because they only want to read things that reaffirm to them that Islam is good, they do not want to read things that might show some not so good aspects of it. Similarly, you just want to read things that show Islam in a bad light, if there is a logical response to something that shows Islam in a bad light, you don’t want to know.

    The first thing I did when I was younger and studying Islam was to go to answering-islam website, which is written by Evangelical Christians and absolutely hates Islam and will spin everything to put it in a bad light. The reason, one can only form an honest opinion of something after reading pro and anti articles on it. But honesty isn’t one of your fortes, you have to come on here and lie you have studied Islam – your claim is as ridiculous as that of a Christian who has only ever read Creationist websites that are critical of evolution, and then coming online and saying triumphantly that they have studied evolution!

    So, yes, FredM, it is clear you do not want to have an honest debate, it is clear you lie about your credentials and try and make it seem as if you have serious credentials about Islam, which you don’t, and it is clear that you will put a spin on anything to try and give credibility to your viewpoint. And as a busy person, I don’t really have time to deal with such individuals. I mean, would you argue with someone who only ever read pro-Islamic litearture, and refused to listen to anything else? Of course not, so why should I argue with a dishonest and disingenuous individual like you?

  • Ahmed said on April 7, 2013 at 1:46 pm

    Fred M,

    “Speaking of gentleness, how do you propose to kill, crucify, amputate the arm and leg on opposite sides, or banish someone “gently” (5:33)?”

    Your dishonesty knows no limits. I already answered this above. I wrote:

    ——————————————————————————

    “I think it is better if we read the actual quote from the Qur’an, as opposed to what Fred M wrote. The passage states “Indeed, the penalty for those who wage war against Allah and His Messenger and strive upon earth [to cause] corruption is none but that they be killed or crucified or that their hands and feet be cut off from opposite sides or that they be exiled from the land. That is for them a disgrace in this world; and for them in the Hereafter is a great punishment”.
    So this passage is referring to those who are waging war against you. Now, if the Taliban wage war against Americans, you’re very happy to blow them to bits, you’re happy to kill them even when they have their family members with them (as has happened numerous times before), you’re happy to use vacuum bombs, which, if they don’t kill you, will leave you with horrific injuries and a slow and painful death. So the first thing to do is acknowledge that it is hardly as if we in the secular West have a problem with “torturing” those who wage war against us.
    The second point is, the verse gives four options, to kill those who wage war against you, to crucify them, to chop their hands and feet off from alternative sides, or to ask them to leave the land. Now as I am a pacifist, and as I dislike killing and do not like torture, my personal opinion is that the first three should not be carried out. In fact, there is no record of Mohammed or any of the early Muslims ever having chopped off the arms and legs off someone on alternative sides. So to answer your question, the Qur’an gives four options, and I would say the first three should not be carried out, and instead, we should expel someone who is waging war against you.”

    ——————————————————————————

    So, yes, I don’t propose to kill or crucify. But because you don’t like that answer, and you want to make it seem that I do, you willfully choose to ignore my answer.

    As for the bit about amputating a thief’s hand, I already answered that too.

    ——————————————————————————

    It is clearly stated in Islamic doctrine that you should not amputate the hand of someone who is stealing out of necessity (i.e. they have no food to eat, and so they steal food). But do I think this punishment is harsh? Yes, I do, and I personally would not like to see anyone’s hand chopped off. At the same time, what punishment should we give to someone who steals? Look at Bernie Madoff, at the age of 71 he was sentenced to 150 years in prison for stealing. This means he will die in prison. Is this not torture? What is worse, having your hand chopped off, or spending the rest of your life in prison? Under Islamic Law, Bernie Madoff would be a free man today with a hand missing. Under the civilised Western democracy, he is going to die in prison. Now let’s be honest, if someone was asked would they have their hand chopped off or spend 150 years in prison, I am sure the majority of people would opt to have their hand chopped off. So, in some instances, the Islamic punishment is less torturous than the one given out by a secular Western state.

    Just to make it clear (because I know people like to spin words), I am not saying chopping someone’s hand off for stealing is not a harsh and painful punishment. It is. What I am saying is, punishment is meant to be a deterrent and is meant to be harsh. But why the hypocrisy when it comes to harsh penalties in Islam – why not criticism of harsh penalties in America? America has the highest incarceration rate in the world. In America, you can go to prison for 25 years for stealing a pizza if you have two felony convictions against you before.

    http://www.sfgate.com/news/article/Stealing-one-slice-of-pizza-results-in-life-3150629.php

    In America, you can go to prison for 55 years for selling drugs.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Weldon_Angelos_case

    These punishments are torture, so will Fred M and you come out and say how horrified you are that America has such barbaric punishments?

    ——————————————————————————

    So, Fred M, will you?

  • Ahmed said on April 7, 2013 at 1:49 pm

    @Robby and others,

    Sorry if the posts have gone off topic. It’s just that Fred M will keep posting off topic things and crying that no one is answering him (well, they are, but Fred M likes to ignore things he doesn’t find favourable), and so I have to waste some of my time just trying to keep him calm!

  • Fred M said on April 7, 2013 at 3:18 pm

    Ahmed,

    That is a very funny and revealing performance. Just in time to avoid the issue of the extent of your support for the Hadith, while blaming me for the entire exchange in which we both participated.

    “I myself have criticisms of some of the orthodox schools of Islamic Jurisprudence!”

    Do you have any criticisms of the Qur’an? Any criticisms of Muhammad?

    You allege: “…and then having to come on here and lie that you have studied the Quran and Arabic – you haven’t studied Arabic, you cannot speak it, and I can test you on it on here,”

    …when what I actually said was this:
    “Studied the Qur’an in my case means I’ve read it multiple times, consulting multiple translations, and studying the Arabic for some key words,…[see the rest above]”

    I didn’t say I studied Arabic to the point of becoming a fluent speaker; I said I studied the Arabic for some key words (some of which I’ve touched upon above), as the concepts are relevant in Islamic law. You keep talking about credentials, when all I said was essentially that I studied and read a lot on Islam, implying on my own. If I had a formal degree in the subject, I would have mentioned it. No misrepresentation here, but nice try with that allegation.

    You wrote:
    “…why is your Islamic knowledge from anti-Islamic websites, why do you refuse to read both the anti and pro Islamic viewpoint before coming to a decision,”

    Actually, as I said already, for starters, I’ve read the Qur’an, Muslim commentaries, portions of the Hadith especially those relevant to non-Muslims, women, and homosexuals [and slaves, if I did not mention that already]; have read the Sira; etc., etc., [see above] this is all from a pro-Islamic perspective. I’ve been reading Islamic apologetic sites for a long time as well. Yes I read critical sites too, and critical books. Not sure what any of this has to do with the substantive points raised in my sustained attempt to get you to answer two simple questions, in relation to the issue of your (and Murtaza’s) moral consistency in condemning Harris re torture and wiping people out, killing them, and subjugating them.

    “…why do you insist on just reading one viewpoint? Could it be because you’re intellectually dishonest?”

    Again, you are simply making empty allegations, and have little clue, and no genuine interest that I can detect, in what I have read. None of this is relevant to your absurdly contrived defense for whipping fornicators in 24:2.

    And you have still not answered my question regarding 9:29, 9:123, etc. The links you provided from Loonwatch I had already read from a long time ago, based on my recollection, they did not contain your answer to my question, and a re-read the dhimma article confirmed this again (and that article only briefly mentions 9:29 and 9:13). Danios the author adds the word “belligerence” to 9:29, which is not in the verse, unless you think rejecting Islam and Muhammad is belligerence. Despite your conspicuous evasiveness throughout this entire exchange, it is clear enough that you support all those verses as justified. I don’t need you to tell me they’re all defensive because I know that’s not the case. The Qur’an contains some defensive or retaliatory verses of warfare (e.g., 22:39, 4:75, etc.), but it also contains verses of aggressive warfare. 9:29 is aggressive religiously based warfare, and there is a lengthy tradition of offensive jihad warfare built upon that verse and the hadiths relevant to it. No amount of apologetic whitewashing from you can make the centuries of expansive imperialistic jihad warfare and subjugation (dhimma and slavery) disappear, for which see Karsh’s Islamic Imperialism, Andrew Bostom’s Legacy of Jihad, Bat Ye’or’s important books on dhimmitude, etc.

    One last topic: racism and bigotry. Despite his denials, Murtaza goes to great length to portray Harris as a kind of racist and bigot. But is Murtaza (or Ahmed) critical of racism and bigotry when it appears in the Qur’an?

    98:6 “The unbelievers of the People of the Book and the idolaters shall be in the Fire of Gehenna, therein dwelling forever; those are the worst of creatures.”
    http://tanzil.net/#trans/en.arberry/98:1

    Allah turns some People of the Book into apes and swine:
    5:59-60 “Say: ‘People of the Book, do you blame us for any other cause than that we believe in God, and what has been sent down to us, and what was sent down before, and that most of you are ungodly?’ Say: ‘Shall I tell you of a recompense with God, worse than that? Whomsoever God has cursed, and with whom He is wroth, and made some of them apes and swine, and worshippers of idols — they are worse situated, and have gone further astray from the right way.”
    http://tanzil.net/#trans/en.arberry/5:59

    2:65-66 “And well you know there were those among you that transgressed the Sabbath, and We said to them, ‘Be you apes, miserably slinking!’ And We made it a punishment exemplary for all the former times and for the latter, and an admonition to such as are godfearing.”
    http://tanzil.net/#trans/en.arberry/2:65

    Useful site for skeptics of Islam:
    http://skepticsannotatedbible.com/quran/index.htm
    http://www.project-reason.org/scripture_project/

  • CGW said on April 7, 2013 at 6:30 pm

    @Ahmed

    Again you try to deflect/divert via ad hominems.

    I don’t care who uses the term tu quoque, it remains a logical fallacy and as such unacceptable in a reasoned discussion.

    “The ability to identify logical fallacies in the arguments of others, and to avoid them in one’s own arguments, is both valuable and increasingly rare. Fallacious reasoning keeps us from knowing the truth, and the inability to think critically makes us vulnerable to manipulation by those skilled in the art of rhetoric.

    A logical fallacy is, roughly speaking, an error of reasoning. When someone adopts a position, or tries to persuade someone else to adopt a position, based on a bad piece of reasoning, they commit a fallacy…”

    FYI, http://www.logicalfallacies.info/

    Frankly, your arguments are replete with logical fallacies, but this is as expected from muslim “logic”, which is virtually devoid of critical-thinking.

    I don’t know the reason for your obsession with Robert Spencer, but you must fear his influence greatly, since you accuse everyone with a negative opinion of islam of being some sort of minion of his. You repeatedly bring up his name, as though he were your arch-nemesis. You must consider him quite a formidable foe. Nevertheless, despite this cum hoc fallacy, people such as Fred M and myself are perfectly capable of educating ourselves about an ideology through accessing original sources, and Fred M for one has delineated his own process above, the veracity of which you uncategorically reject. My own evolution has been similar to his, but your reactionary prejudice prevents you from accepting that a non-muslim could research islam from its own original texts and still criticize it in the way that we have, despite protestations to the contrary. Your statement about “knowing people” who have learned about islam and subsequently rejected it, and the statement that you find this unobjectionable, are disingenuous. Fred M ans I have both stated that this is exactly what we have done, but you refuse to accept our assertions and claim that we “MUST” have been tainted by sources you deem “islamophobic” to hold the opinions we do. You can’t have it both ways.

    Again you try to divert by claiming that Fred M has somehow hijacked this thread and even apologizing to the article’s author for that “fact”. Both Fred M and I have clearly pointed out that the issues raised were to illustrate the hypocrisy of attacking Harris for his supposed advocacy of torture and killing when the tenets of islam to which you subscribe, and which you refuse to condemn, advocate the same things. Thus it is highly relevant to the discussion at hand.

  • CGW said on April 7, 2013 at 6:56 pm

    @Ahmed

    This is fascinating:

    “Similarly, all the verses in the Qur’an that talk about killing infidels were not blanket statements for all time. They were in specific instances where the Muslims were being attacked.”

    So you state that the koranic injunctions re fighting and slaying unbelievers are DESCRIPTIVE (like Old Testament Biblical verses) and not PRESCRIPTIVE, i.e. valid for all time and in all places, as purported by islamic orthodoxy? Do you realize that this puts you at odds with the vast majority of muslims, most especially those tasked with applying the koranic injunctions to everyday muslim life?

    “Moreover the Qur’an is eternal and valid for all times and places; such local and temporary particularities as this time, place and circumstances of revelation can have no effect on the higher scale of meanings contained in the Qur’an.”

    (Since you are som enamored of islamic websites)
    http://www.al-islam.org/quraninislam/5.htm

    Do you realize that what you have stated is considered blasphemy?

  • Tama Paine said on April 8, 2013 at 5:42 am

    Good job.

    But, you see, actually to engage with Sam Harris’s points–rather than burning a straw man constructed of glosses on points he never made–would mean actually having to read and reason in a complex, nuanced, mature way.

    That is surely beyond the terrain of hacks like Glenn Greenwald and Murtaza Hussein, who exist only to flog their readers’ amygdalas.

  • Caroline said on April 8, 2013 at 6:05 am

    Methinks “Ahmed” and “Murstaza” are actually the head of PR for CAIR posting under pseudonyms!

    What silly nonsense they spout…and so much of it…in response to simple clear reason that calls out the forces of superstition, hidden political and religious agendas, illogic….

  • Fred M said on April 8, 2013 at 1:48 pm

    Sam Harris’ response to the recent controversy:
    http://www.samharris.org/site/full_text/response-to-controversy2/

  • Fred M said on April 8, 2013 at 9:01 pm

    More smearing of atheists and Harris by Murtaza Hussain.

    So Murtaza explicitly claims he’s not trying to bash all atheists, and that he’s not characterizing Harris as a racist. He tweets:

    Murtaza Hussain ‏@MazMHussain 3h
    @kylejcarruthers I absolutely do not want to bash Atheists or Atheism.
    https://twitter.com/MazMHussain/status/321340802364239873

    Got that? That’s his theory. Let’s look at his practice [my explanation in brackets]:

    Murtaza Hussain ‏@MazMHussain 31 Mar
    @Nin_99 @kim_tastiic Their atheism has often divorced them from moral considerations, allowed them to kill w/o it seeming as big a deal.

    Murtaza Hussain ‏@MazMHussain 31 Mar
    @Nin_99 @kim_tastiic Umm for a start the tens of millions killed by Stalin and Mao were done so under the banner of ideological atheism.

    Murtaza Hussain ‏@MazMHussain 31 Mar
    @QalandarTabrizi @PakistanAtheist Sad. Their heroes are the people who give the intellectual justification for mass-murdering Pakistanis.
    [Regarding the Pakistani Atheists, likely Murtaza means their "heroes" include people like Harris and Hitchens, who Murtaza accuses of justifying murder of Pakistanis]

    [Regarding Harris]:
    Murtaza Hussain ‏@MazMHussain 2h
    @lozcrouch He may not be a tattooed skinhead but on some level he indicates that he sympathizes with how they view the world. Even worse IMO
    https://twitter.com/MazMHussain/status/321360936013271040

    [Regarding atheist Islam critic and human rights advocate Ayaan Hirsi Ali]:
    Murtaza Hussain ‏@MazMHussain 29 Mar
    Imagine what the child of Ayaan Hirsi Ali and Niall Ferguson is going to be like. Solid theoretical candidate for the anti-Christ.
    https://twitter.com/MazMHussain/status/317609926887350272

    [Retweeted by Murtaza]
    Stop imperialism! ‏@kim_tastiic 31 Mar
    Then you could argue atheists breed white supremacist pro torture imperialist neocons ie. Christopher Hitchens, Sam Harris @Nin_99

    [Murtaza, a pious Muslim, tweet suggests his possible endorsement of the authority of the hadith and fiqh]
    Murtaza Hussain ‏@MazMHussain 31 Mar
    @ibne_khalid @PatrickGilmour ..classical Arabic, fiqh & hadith; @RichardDawkins didn’t even read it yet makes most authoritative statements
    ————————————

    While his previous tweets (and retweet) are crudely insulting and provide further support for the idea that Murtaza’s “analysis” of Harris (and others) is little more than ill-informed anti-atheist animus, bigotry, and libel, it is the last of the tweets cited above that is potentially most disturbing in its implications. He called himself a liberal Muslim, but the above tweet raises the question of the extent to which he endorses the contents of the Hadith and of fiqh (essentially, Islamic jurisprudence). In the tweet, he is implying that Dawkins (who says he hasn’t read the Qur’an yet) not only needs to read the Qur’an to get a fair and true understanding of Islam, but that he needs to read at least some significant portion of the Hadith and Islamic law to understand what (Murtaza thinks) Islam is really all about. I view this as troubling coming from an apparently pious and zealous Muslim like Murtaza, because practically every objectionable element of Islam today in terms of human rights violations and gender inequality can be traced in one form or another back to the formation of classical Islamic law, which depended heavily on the Hadith because the Qur’an itself in most cases is too vague and incomplete. The questions that Murtaza should answer should focus on exactly which policies in the Hadith and in Islamic law, if any, he supports.

  • Francois Arouet said on April 8, 2013 at 9:27 pm

    Wonderful job. But could we please have a good print format?

  • Matthew 5:17-20 said on April 9, 2013 at 2:36 am

    @Ahmed

    “…the verse gives four options, to kill those who wage war against you, to crucify them, to chop their hands and feet off from alternative sides, or to ask them to leave the land. Now as I am a pacifist, and as I dislike killing and do not like torture, my personal opinion is that the first three should not be carried out.”

    So, you categorically reject the first three options? As a pacifist, you believe that those options are deeply offensive and repugnant, no? Those actions are forms of torture and deeply immoral? And yet, at the very least, the quran clearly allows for those options to be carried out. In fact, the quran specifically recommends them. Three of the four “suggestions” made in the quran call for Muslims to inflict bloody, horrific torture upon other human beings, and often for nothing more than their mere thoughts and words.

    So, let us imagine, for a moment, that a boy, a teenager, steals a pair of $50 sunglasses from a store. An item which the teen desires, but clearly does not need. Though you believe that the penalty is harsh, you nonetheless would condone the imposition of permanent physical dismemberment upon this boy?

    What if nobody else was around to impose the chopping off of this boy’s hand? Would you obey the quran, raise the blade yourself, and amputate a teenager’s hand from his body? Or would you reject the direct instruction of the quran?

    When the kind, thoughtful man who lives across the street from you finally admits, to you and your other Muslim neighbors, that he has come to realize that the teachings found within the quran, which he was taught by his Muslim parents, are hideous and immoral, and that those teachings should be categorically rejected by any decent person… what will happen then? And when he tells you and your neighbors all of the reasons, in detail, that he no longer believes in the existence of Allah, or any other silly god or deity or supernatural nonsense… what will happen then? Specifically, what will you do when you neighbors drag him away to be judged by the Shariah court? What will you think when that court, following the direct words of the quran, orders that your apostate neighbor be killed? And when they drag him out to be publicly executed, and he is forced down, and a large man cuts off his head with a sword… Tell me, who in that situation is the wrongdoer? Who is the dangerous barbarian? Is it your apostate neighbor whose corpse now lies bloody upon the ground near his decapitated head? Or is it the man with the sword and everyone else who takes part in such an action? Remember, the quran makes it clear that this is one of the recommended punishments for thinking the wrong thoughts and speaking the wrong words. So, is the quran wrong on this matter?

    What about the unmarried persons who are caught having consensual sex? You claim that you would only choose to whip them very lightly, to inflict no pain. And yet, any normal person reading the quran would likely understand that the instruction is to cause great pain, severe injury, and deep shame upon these two people who have done nothing more than make love with each other. When the Muslims who caught this poor couple, and dragged them away, and bound them, and then brutally, mercilessly whipped them 100 times (as is, you admit, specifically called for in the quran) until these two people’s bodies were severely torn and bloody… tell me, if you will, looking upon that particular situation… who there has committed an act of love, and who there has committed an act of horrific evil? Is it the sweet, loving couple who are now lying half-dead, bloody, on the ground? Or is it the man with the whip and his fellow Muslims who have done this thing?

    Ahmed, you have avoided these points again and again. When you finally address them, you only do it in a roundabout manner, finally admitting that you, yourself, would not choose to impose such merciless actions upon another person. And yet, saying that you wouldn’t *choose* to do it, is not the same as saying that you simply *would not* do such a thing. And more to the point, you do not say that it is wrong for another person to impose such a punishment. Is it really so difficult to speak clearly on these matters?

    No, I won’t go read some long article located on your most-favorite website. Just tell us here and now, clearly, in your own words. Please.

  • Ahmed said on April 9, 2013 at 8:52 am

    @CGW,

    1) Ad hominem and ME? Read your posts again, and you will see them full of ad hominem. Pot. Kettle. Black. The age old tactic of accusing someone of doing something you do, to hide your own faults. Sadly for you, people are not stupid, and people reading your posts can see this. And I will expose you for what you are below:

    I love the bit where you start talking about logical fallacies, I have a post graduate degree in Computing, of which logic is a HUGE part. My arguments are NOT logical fallacies at all. You have no clue of the term, you have probably seen it being thrown around the Internet, have read the definition, and think you understand it, and so you throw it about. But you are wrong.

    I have criticised the credentials of people like you and Fred M, saying your knowledge of Islam is limited to what you want to believe. This is NOT ad hominem, if you think it is, it just shows how clueless you are. My conclusion is formed via REASONING, the reasoning being that many times I have debated people who speak very similarly to Fred M and you, who say they have studied Islam in depth, who throw in the “I also know some Arabic” to try and give themselves more credibility, but upon further questioning, it is plainly clear that these individuals knowledge of Islam comes from very limited source, that they are not really interested in debate, and that they have not read the Islamic viewpoint (they have only read parts of Conservative medieval Islamic texts like Reliance of the Traveller which many modern Islamic scholars disagree with). A perfect example of the hypocrisy of such individuals is this case, they say Muhammad married Aisha when she was 9, and they say the proof of this is something which is written in the Hadith by Sahih Bukhari. Now there is another Hadith by Sahih Bukhari that clearly implies that Aisha was at least 14 when she got married to Muhammad. Now any honest, reasonable person would say that if source X says A and B, and A and B are contradicting, then we cannot be sure which of A and B are true. So one would come to the conclusion that Aisha might have been 9 or she might have been 14. But the Islamic experts like you and Fred M who I have debated will still continue to say that Muhammad married Aisha that she was 9, and will refuse to concede she might have been 14. So, yes, I have debated many times before at FOX News (when they used to have a forum for each of their articles), and you and Fred M sound very much like these people, and hence my conclusion about you guys. This is not ad hominem, in fact, it is perfectly reasonable to come to a conclusion about someone’s integrity in a debate.

    2) You seem to have a problem when I talk about Bernie Madoff being in prison for the rest of his life and torture. Your argument seems to be that this is ad hominem and a logical fallacy. In fact, it isn’t anything of the sort! When you have a negative view of something, it is perfectly reasonable to compare it to something you do not have a negative view of, because then you can see just how different the thing you have a negative view of is from the thing you believe in.
    Therefore, it is perfectly reasonable to compare what is more torture: Jailing someone for 150 years for fraud, or chopping their hand off and letting them free? I mean, surely jailing someone for 150 years is barbaric and torture, yes? Would you not agree? Chopping someone’s hand off is clearly torture too. And in the case of jailing someone for 150 years or chopping their hand off, chopping their hand off is actually less torture. So the question is, if you’re against torture, why don’t you speak out against torture in American society, especially when the torture can actually be worse than what the Qur’an states. Is it because you think jailing Bernie Madoff for 150 years sends a message that fraud of such large scale will not be tolerated? That it is meant to be a deterrent? In which case, the Qur’an clearly states that chopping the hand off serves as a deterrent, so why is torture when does as a deterrent by American (like jailing someone for 150 years, that effectively means they will never be free again) ok, but torture when does Islamically not? Or, if jailing someone for a long time (which is technically torture when you consider what a detrimental effect this often has on their mental health) is done as a punishment for the crime, why is it ok?
    So, yes, you clearly have not studied logic or philosophy, and so you have no idea what the purpose of comparing the view someone has on something they detest with something they stand for has, and that is why you incorrectly throw around the term logical fallacy, without even understanding its meaning.

    3) You wrote: “So you state that the koranic injunctions re fighting and slaying unbelievers are DESCRIPTIVE (like Old Testament Biblical verses) and not PRESCRIPTIVE, i.e. valid for all time and in all places, as purported by islamic orthodoxy? Do you realize that this puts you at odds with the vast majority of muslims, most especially those tasked with applying the koranic injunctions to everyday muslim life?

    “Moreover the Qur’an is eternal and valid for all times and places; such local and temporary particularities as this time, place and circumstances of revelation can have no effect on the higher scale of meanings contained in the Qur’an.””

    Oh dear, your lack of logic is once again showing. Muslims believe that the laws of the Qur’an are in place for all time. That doesn’t mean that actions are in place for all time, because actions have context! I mean, how can the Qur’an verses to fight against the Quraysh tribe exist for all times? The Quraysh don’t even exist anymore.
    I mean, there are passagers of the Qur’an that state to kill the unbelievers. If this passage did not exist in context, then when the early Muslim companions of Muhammad conquered Jerusalem after his death, they would have killed all the Jews!
    Seriously, dude, some advice for you, instead of believing what someone tells you, may I suggest that you actually read and THINK for yourself and come to your own conclusions? Like I have done with Islam, because if I believed everythign that some Imam told me, who knows, I might be al-Qaeda today, but instead I have read things and then formed my own conclusions.

    4) As for your quote:
    “I don’t know the reason for your obsession with Robert Spencer, but you must fear his influence greatly, since you accuse everyone with a negative opinion of islam of being some sort of minion of his. ”

    Again, you are lying. Don’t you have an ounce of honesty? This is what I wrote in an earlier thread:
    “Just to clarify for the last time, I have no problem with someone having criticisms of Islam or Mohammed or anything. I have no problem with someone thinking Islam is worse than any other religion. I know some people who have read both pro and anti Islamic viewpoints, and come to a disfavourable view of Islam – I have no problem with that.”

    So it is absolutely clear for people to see my viewpoint – that I have no problem with someone who dislikes Islam after studying it honestly, in fact, I have a really good friend who hates Islam, and I love the guy.
    As I said earlier in this post, you accuse others of ad hominem because that is something you do, and to hide your own faults, you project them onto others. And I have just proved this. You are writing that I accuse everyone with a negative opinion of Islam as being some sort of minion of his, whereas my post clearly shows this isn’t true. so, yes, I have just exposed you as being a very dishonest individual, and as one cannot have an honest debate with a dishonest individual, I will not be debating with you. Of course, being as dishonest as you are, you’re going to triumphantly declare that I “ran off” :)

    As for Robert Spencer, I don’t have an obsession with him, he’s just a dishonest individual (a bit like you) who has been caught lying numerous times and who runs away from debate:

    http://www.loonwatch.com/2012/01/robert-spencer-runs-away-from-debating-danios-again-in-abn-getaway-car/

  • Ahmed said on April 9, 2013 at 10:18 am

    @FredM,

    My last post on this topic, as you are continuously being intellectually dishonest (and I know some on here will come and blow your trumpet, that doesn’t mean you’re arguing your points well, it just means that you’re saying what they want to hear – a bit like if you were on a pro-Islamic website, and someone criticised you and then a hundred Muslims all came and said Fred M is talking rubbish and so and so has embarrassed Fred M, the hundred Muslims would most likely be biased and intellectually dishonest and so their opinion would have no credibility).

    1) “Do you have any criticisms of the Qur’an? Any criticisms of Muhammad?”

    It depends on interpretation. If I was to follow your Qur’anic interpretations, or those of say Imam Shafi, then, yes, I would have serious criticisms of it. If I was to interpret as many Muslims scholars do today, then, no, I don’t.

    As for criticisms of Muhammad, well, Muhammad is criticsed in the Qur’an itself, and as someone who has read it “many” times, I would have expected you to know this. I mean, Muhammad might have been eulogised in Islam after his death, but I do not agree with this, because as I said, I read things, and then make my own conclusions, and from my reading, Muhammad should be treated as a great Prophet, but nothing close to being faultless.

    2) “I didn’t say I studied Arabic to the point of becoming a fluent speaker; I said I studied the Arabic for some key words (some of which I’ve touched upon above)”

    Did you consult classical Arabic dictionaries, or modern one? You do realise there is a difference, yes? Or, did you read some article by someone who knows Arabic and read their commentary, and are trying to pass it off as your own? Like, when you talk about qtl, did you just get your understanding of it from here?

    http://markdurie.blogspot.co.uk/2011/04/on-difficulty-of-reading-quran-part-b.html

    You see, there is a huge difference in saying I have studied something myself, and between reading someone’s opinion on it, and then passing it off as your own as having studied it.
    So what you should really have been saying was “I have read commentaries of the Qur’an where the commentators have looked at the Arabic in depth”, instead of saying that you have studied the Arabic yourself. Judging from my past interactions with people who claim to have studied Arabic, I would say you threw it in to try and give yourself more authority and try and make your points sound more scholarly – a bit like how Creationists claim to have studied Biology!

    3) “Again, you are simply making empty allegations, and have little clue, and no genuine interest that I can detect, in what I have read. None of this is relevant to your absurdly contrived defense for whipping fornicators in 24:2.”

    Not really, it is quite clear that you ARE intellectually dishonest, as I have shown before and continue to show.

    4) “The links you provided from Loonwatch I had already read from a long time ago, based on my recollection, they did not contain your answer to my question”

    Hmmm, are you sure? ;) Surely if you’re interested in debate, and if someone tells you the answer is here, you would want to go and read it, because you had “supposedly” read them a long time ago, and so you would want to read them again.
    There are many articles I read, and then re-read to consult them. This is the normal thing to do. The fact you did not want to read it again (and there is a string assumption here that you actually read them in the first instance), just shows your intellectual dishonesty in having an honest debate.

    5) “Danios the author adds the word “belligerence” to 9:29, which is not in the verse, unless you think rejecting Islam and Muhammad is belligerence.”

    No he hasn’t. Stop lying. What Danios writes is:
    “Islamic reformers in the nineteenth century, however, argued that jizya is to be demanded only of those disbelievers who have “violated their pledges (of peace)…and attacked you first” (Quran, 9:13), those whose belligerence must be “subdued” (Quran, 9:29).” In other words, Islamic reformers of the nineteenth century argued that the verse refers to those non-believers who were hostile to Muslims. If you actually read Chapter 9 of the Quran, it tells Muslims to fight the polytheists, because the polytheists are trying to topple the Muslims. It makes it clear that do not fight the polytheists who have not broken any treaties with you.
    Your dishonesty is apparent when you sit there arguing that the verse that tells Muslims to fight the non-believers until they pay tax shows that the Muslims are trying to subjugate them. What you fail to mention is that the tax was then used to protect them and allow them to practise their religion. I mean, if Muslims in America decided they will not pay tax, what will happen to them? They will get arrested and thrown in prison. Is this subjugation?

    6) “9:29 is aggressive religiously based warfare, and there is a lengthy tradition of offensive jihad warfare built upon that verse and the hadiths relevant to it. No amount of apologetic whitewashing from you can make the centuries of expansive imperialistic jihad warfare and subjugation (dhimma and slavery) disappear, for which see Karsh’s Islamic Imperialism”

    Imperialists will always be Imperialists, they will bend anything to suit their needs. If something can be interpreted as A or B, and someone decided to interpret it as B, does it mean that that is the correct interpretation? the fact you suggest it does shows you’re either dishonest, or you lack logical reasoning.

    7) “Andrew Bostom’s Legacy of Jihad, Bat Ye’or’s important books on dhimmitude, etc. ”

    Aha – so your knowlegde on Islam comes from the likes of Bostom and Bat Ye’or! Now it all makes sense, just like the FOX readers I debated with, you also have the same sources (not to mention the same Arabic credentials ;) )!

    Why don’t you mention the fact, that regarding Bat Ye’or:
    “Mark R. Cohen, a leading scholar of the history of Jewish communities of medieval Islam, has criticized the term as misleading and Islamophobic.[17]
    Bernard Lewis, Professor Emeritus of Near Eastern Studies at Princeton University, calls the term “a myth”.[18]
    Michael Sells, John Henry Barrows Professor of Islamic History and Literature at the University of Chicago, argued that “by obscuring the existence of pre-Christian and other old, non-Christian communities in Europe as well as the reason for their disappearance in other areas of Europe, Bat Ye’or constructs an invidious comparison between the allegedly humane Europe of Christian and Enlightenment values and the ever present persecution within Islam. Whenever the possibility is raised of actually comparing circumstances of non-Christians in Europe to non-Muslims under Islamic governance in a careful, thoughtful manner, Bat Ye’or forecloses such comparison.”[19]
    In a review of The Decline of Eastern Christianity Under Islam: From Jihad to Dhimmitude the American historian Robert Brenton Betts commented that the book dealt with Judaism at least as much as with Christianity, that the title was misleading and the central premise flawed. He said: “The general tone of the book is strident and anti-Muslim. This is coupled with selective scholarship designed to pick out the worst examples of anti-Christian behavior by Muslim governments, usually in time of war and threats to their own destruction (as in the case of the deplorable Armenian genocide of 1915). Add to this the attempt to demonize the so-called Islamic threat to Western civilization and the end-product is generally unedifying and frequently irritating.”[20]
    Sidney Griffith, the head of the department of Semitic and Egyptian Languages and Literatures at the Catholic University of America wrote in a review of Decline of Eastern Christianity that Ye’or has “raised a topic of vital interest”; adding, however, that the “theoretical inadequacy of the interpretive concepts of jihad and dhimmitude, as they are employed here”, and the “want of historical method in the deployments of the documents which serve as evidence for the conclusions reached in the study” serve as dual barriers. He goes on to say “[quotations] are presented out of context, with no analysis or explanation. One has the impression that in their bulk they are simply meant to undergird the contentions made in the first part of the book”, concluding that thus Ye’or has “written a polemical tract, not responsible historical analysis.” [21]
    According to the American scholar Joel Beinin, Bat Ye’or exemplifies the “neo-lachrymose” perspective on Egyptian Jewish history. According to Beinin, this perspective has been “consecrated” as “the normative Zionist interpretation of the history of Jews in Egypt.””

    Or this:
    “The notion of “Eurabia” has been dismissed as a conspiracy theory by the academic community.[24][25][26][8] Matt Carr states,
    “In order to accept Ye’or’s ridiculous thesis, it is necessary to believe not only in the existence of a concerted Islamic plot to subjugate Europe, involving all Arab governments, whether ‘Islamic’ or not, but also to credit a secret and unelected parliamentary body with the astounding ability to transform all Europe’s major political, economic and cultural institutions into subservient instruments of ‘jihad’ without any of the continent’s press or elected institutions being aware of it.””

    Yes, all non-Muslims, all academics, who have exposed her for what she is, yet you’re still willing to take what Bat Ye’or says seriously. Shows just how intellectually dishonest you are.

    8) “98:6 “The unbelievers of the People of the Book and the idolaters shall be in the Fire of Gehenna, therein dwelling forever; those are the worst of creatures.””

    The majority of classical scholars said Hell was forever. Many modern ones say it isn’t, and they quote the verses that Allah says sinners will go to Hell forever and that Allah is most merciful. The ones who support Hell will be forever cite the verse where Allah says he will not forgive x. Those who are against this opinion say that there are clearly Muslims from Muhammad’s time who did x, and then became Muslims, and so these verses mean that Allah will not guide them directly by divine inspiration, but that they can still guide themselves to good things and thus seek salvation, and that furthermore, just because Allah does not forgive a sin, it does not mean Allah will punish for it.

    So, yes, as it is appartent, The Qur’an is a very complicated book, where taking just one verse out of context makes no sense, but individuals like you are more than happy to do so when it suits your agenda.

    Finally, because I know you try and spin things your way, I will make it clear again once and for all:
    Just to clarify for the last time, I have no problem with someone having criticisms of Islam or Mohammed or anything. I have no problem with someone thinking Islam is worse than any other religion. I know some people who have read both pro and anti Islamic viewpoints, and come to a disfavourable view of Islam – I have no problem with that.”

  • Ahmed said on April 9, 2013 at 10:50 am

    “So, you categorically reject the first three options?”

    Yes.

    “As a pacifist, you believe that those options are deeply offensive and repugnant, no? Those actions are forms of torture and deeply immoral?”

    Immoral? Well, if you crucified Dick Cheney, or those Americans who have tortured people, then I would not consider it immoral. I still wouldn’t torture them, but that would not be for moral reasons, it would be because I do not like to inflict pain on people.

    “Those actions are forms of torture and deeply immoral? And yet, at the very least, the quran clearly allows for those options to be carried out. In fact, the quran specifically recommends them. Three of the four “suggestions” made in the quran call for Muslims to inflict bloody, horrific torture upon other human beings, and often for nothing more than their mere thoughts and words.”

    The Qur’an gives four options. These options are against people who are trying to kill you.
    You have no problems killing Taliban. You have no problems dropping vacuum bombs on Taliban positions (as happened in Afghanistan), knowing very well that any Taliban who was not close enough to the bomb to have ben killed immediately would have his internal organs sucked out and die a very slow and torturous death.
    So, are you ok for using a weapon that you know will invariable lead a painful death for some people. Do you find them “deeply offensive and repugnant, no? Those actions are forms of torture and deeply immoral?”

    “So, let us imagine, for a moment, that a boy, a teenager, steals a pair of $50 sunglasses from a store. An item which the teen desires, but clearly does not need. Though you believe that the penalty is harsh, you nonetheless would condone the imposition of permanent physical dismemberment upon this boy?”

    No. Some Islamic scholars would say the Islam teaches to be harsh as a deterrent, but other Islamic scholars would argue that you have to look at the circumstances, and a teenager stealing sunglasses causes no real harm to society and he should be educated, but if he still continues to steal, and assuming he has no mental problem, only then should punishment be considered.

    “What if nobody else was around to impose the chopping off of this boy’s hand? Would you obey the quran, raise the blade yourself, and amputate a teenager’s hand from his body? Or would you reject the direct instruction of the quran?”

    What are you on about man? It is the job of the State to carry out the punishment, not individuals. So I would not be expected to carry out any punishment myself.

    “When the kind, thoughtful man who lives across the street from you finally admits, to you and your other Muslim neighbors, that he has come to realize that the teachings found within the quran, which he was taught by his Muslim parents, are hideous and immoral, and that those teachings should be categorically rejected by any decent person… what will happen then? And when he tells you and your neighbors all of the reasons, in detail, that he no longer believes in the existence of Allah, or any other silly god or deity or supernatural nonsense… what will happen then? Specifically, what will you do when you neighbors drag him away to be judged by the Shariah court?”

    Considering I like in the UK, I doubt my neighbours will be dragging anyone away to a Shariah Court.

    “What will you think when that court, following the direct words of the quran, orders that your apostate neighbor be killed?”

    Read my posts before posting, I really am a busy person and do not see why I should waste my time with people who are too lazy to read what I write and then just spout off whatever they want to. I already gave my view on apostasy, which are stated at this website.

    http://www.loonwatch.com/2009/09/apostasy/

    “And when they drag him out to be publicly executed, and he is forced down, and a large man cuts off his head with a sword… Tell me, who in that situation is the wrongdoer? Who is the dangerous barbarian? Is it your apostate neighbor whose corpse now lies bloody upon the ground near his decapitated head? Or is it the man with the sword and everyone else who takes part in such an action? Remember, the quran makes it clear that this is one of the recommended punishments for thinking the wrong thoughts and speaking the wrong words. So, is the quran wrong on this matter?”

    No, you are wrong in that you only want to take the bad interpretation of something and ignore the good interpretation, and then triumphantly proclaim that the bad interpretation is the right interpretation.
    If X can be interpreted as A or B, and if A is moral, and B immoral, and if you say B is the true interpretation (because you dislike X), then that shows intellectual dishonest on your part. As the link I have provided shows, many reformist Muslims, using orthodox Islamic texts only, are now saying that apostasy is only punishable by death if it is done for treason reasons, but not if someone wants to leave the religion because they do not believe in it.

    “What about the unmarried persons who are caught having consensual sex? You claim that you would only choose to whip them very lightly, to inflict no pain. And yet, any normal person reading the quran would likely understand that the instruction is to cause great pain, severe injury, and deep shame upon these two people who have done nothing more than make love with each other.”

    No, but I love how you use adjectives to try and give credibility to your argument. “‘Deep’ shame”!
    The Qur’an says now to show mercy with regards to letting them off the hook, it does not say anything about whipping them hard till they bleed or anything. But, hey, facts don’t matter to you, you just want to spin everything the way you want to.

    “When the Muslims who caught this poor couple, and dragged them away, and bound them, and then brutally, mercilessly whipped them 100 times (as is, you admit, specifically called for in the quran) until these two people’s bodies were severely torn and bloody… ”

    Again, you’re lying. The Qur’an does not say to whip them mercilessly until their bodies are severly torn and bloody. In fact, I wish I had read your whole post first before replying, because then I would not have bothered replying, as it is clear you’re not interested in honest debate, and are instead trying to put spin on things.

    “Ahmed, you have avoided these points again and again. When you finally address them, you only do it in a roundabout manner, finally admitting that you, yourself, would not choose to impose such merciless actions upon another person. And yet, saying that you wouldn’t *choose* to do it, is not the same as saying that you simply *would not* do such a thing. And more to the point, you do not say that it is wrong for another person to impose such a punishment. Is it really so difficult to speak clearly on these matters?”

    Well, I have answered all your questions, and as you’re dishonest, and I busy, I won’t bother with you. I came to this thread, and I wanted to expose Sam Harris’ double standards considering Islam and Buddhism, and the fact Harris has lavished Buddhism and never spoken out against the verses which say killing infidels isn’t a sin. I wanted Robby to challenged him on this, but Robby hasn’t, however, reading some other blogs, it does now seem as if some people are preparing a challenge for Harris to finally come out and denounce the violent passages of Buddhism.

    What I will say, for the benefit of other readers is, for you to clarify YOUR position on killing those who are trying to kill you.

    Are you going to come on here and say you find AMerica’s use of vacuum bombs, which can cause great suffering and torture, against the Taliban is absolutely horrific and disgusting, and that you are repulsed by it?

  • Aeolus13 said on April 9, 2013 at 1:24 pm

    Never thought I’d see the day when I’d give mad props to a Hoosier, but holy hell – you knocked this one out of the park. Thanks for shining a little light on those who seek to score hits by misrepresenting.

  • CGW said on April 9, 2013 at 3:24 pm

    @Ahmed

    Once again you go ’round and ’round, proclaiming yourself victorious, all the while obfuscating and dodging answering questions directly. And yes, you have “run” like a coward from the entire discussion. Your continuous claims of having “exposed” others and reigning victorious are hollow and juvenile, typical of the muslim mindset. (prematurely ejaculatory). Thump your chest, proclaim victory! If only wishing made it so!

    You, sir, are certainly NOT credentialed in any meaningful way in Formal Logic or Debate. Your claims to the contrary are laughable, evidenced by your poor performance on this thread. You seem to have an over-inflated opinion of your own abilities. Of course, your methods are all perfect examples of “mohammedan logic”, which is quite another thing entirely. Pitiful.

    Because you insist on presenting opposing views, Robert Spencer says the following:

    ” . . . Loonwatch’s chief figure, “Danios,” has just passed up no fewer than four separate opportunities to debate me — three hosted at universities and one on ABN — despite his years of bravado and false claims that I was ducking him.”

    “Danios of Loonwatch,” a purveyor of pretentious puffery at the Islamic supremacist hate site Loonwatch, saw this post and, after several days, finally got around to acknowledging that I had actually accepted his debate challenge. Then, however, consistent with his previous cowardice, he made a number of demands and stipulations. He wanted to make the debate center on the flimsy, windy and irrelevant tu quoque arguments he advances at his hate site. I countered with other proposals. Rather than continue the discussion and negotiation, however, he retreated and resumed his smears. Apparently I was supposed to play the compliant dhimmi and accept all his proposals without question. Not surprising.

    And still it remains so: Leftist and Islamic supremacist enemies of freedom fear to debate me, not because I am such a formidable debater, but because I tell the truth, and they know it. Defamation is all they have, since they can’t counter the truths I tell.”

    Spencer has an written an interesting article which describes your behavior on this thread, although you dare not read it – it will prove too damaging to your ego. But should you care to learn a bit about where you’re going wrong and hope to correct it so that you may more successfully debate with Western thinkers, here it is:

    http://www.jihadwatch.org/2012/01/why-cant-muslims-debate-again.html

    Your argumentation style may impress less-knowledgeable muslim readers, but it presents as woefully inadequate to the more erudite products of Enlightened Western Civilization.

    Exposing your OWN dishonesty, how do you “know” that Robert Spencer is “dishonest”? Could it be from reading what OTHERS have written about him and what he says? Have you ever read a single dishonest thing that he has written? If so, reproduce it here and prove your claim. Do so entirely from your own analysis please, without relying on the analyses of others. If you cannot, you prove MY point about ad hominems.

  • Matthew 5:17-20 said on April 9, 2013 at 5:50 pm

    @Ahmed

    Do you categorically reject those violent options only for yourself, or do you believe that it is fundamentally wrong for justice-seeking Muslims to choose to cut off the hands and feet (from opposite sides) of their “enemies”?

    “You have no problems dropping vacuum bombs…”

    You certainly are quick to ascribe beliefs and opinions to me for which you have precisely *no* credible evidence. The only thing you know of me is my previous post, in which my position was, I think, fairly clearly on the side of trying to reduce the suffering and violence which is so often associated with moralistic retributive “justice.” Also, are you suggesting that I live in the US? What’s your evidence? And if I *did* live in the US, would that be your basis for claiming that I support dropping bombs upon people? If that is so, then it must also be true that the 3-5 million Muslims living in the US equally and uniformly support such actions.

    You *love* to accuse everyone else around here of lacking integrity, but seem more than happy to fabricate disparaging accusations without any evidence (some might call it a “lie”) about your “opponents.” It is not honorable. You should take some time, alone, to seriously consider why you behave in such a manner.

    “Well, if you crucified Dick Cheney, or those Americans who have tortured people, then I would not consider it immoral.”

    So, you don’t believe that crucifixion is a form of torture? Or you don’t really mind torture, as long as it is in the context of retributive justice? (As long as you don’t personally have to get blood on your hands, of course.) For myself, I would never crucify anybody, for any reason. And I believe that anyone who inflicted such horrific torture upon another human being would rightly be considered a dangerous, sadistic psychopath. (Like Dick Cheney!)

    “Some Islamic scholars would say the Islam teaches to be harsh as a deterrent, but other Islamic scholars would argue that you have to look at the circumstances”

    So, there is a split of opinion as to when it is appropriate to cut off people’s hands for stealing. But it is, nonetheless, well within the bounds of modern Islamic jurisprudence to deem that a boy who steals without need should have his hand chopped off. Be it the first time he steals, or perhaps only after repeated theft. But the chopping off of hands is inherently acceptable… it’s merely a matter of the proper time and place. That is ugly.

    “So I would not be expected to carry out any punishment myself.”

    But what if there was nobody else willing/able to do it? What if everyone else refused, saying that cutting off someone’s hand as a punishment for stealing was, to them, an odious, repellent act. Or maybe you’re the only person left who has any hands to pick up the blade. Would you do it or not?

    “Considering I like in the UK, I doubt my neighbours will be dragging anyone away to a Shariah Court.”

    More avoidance on your part. As usual. You run away from everything. Allow briefly, if you will, that you currently live in the Glorious Islamic Republic of Hypotheticalia.

    “Read my posts before posting, I really am a busy person…”

    Yes, I can tell, based upon the size and quantity of your posts, that you must be *quite* busy. And, as you once again get it completely wrong… I read this entire thread, every single post, before posting myself. (It took a while!) However, I won’t be wandering off to some ridiculous website where, it would seem, you’ve posted all the things you’re unwilling to share with us here.

    “If X can be interpreted as A or B, and if A is moral, and B immoral, and if you say B is the true interpretation (because you dislike X), then that shows intellectual dishonest on your part.”

    You are wrong on both points. Again.
    If X can reasonably be interpreted as requiring either A or B, then it is a near certainty that some interpreters will decide upon A, and others upon B. Further, where the interpretation is being made by persons who *truly* believe that X contains instructions handed down by the Creator of the Universe, then it will not be at all surprising that they will obediently follow those interpretations.

    In this particular case, I don’t see much room for alternate interpretations. There are the clear, direct instructions… and then there are those who try to explain away embarrassing and inconvenient truths.

    But don’t take my word for it. Simply refer to the many (hundreds) of millions of Muslims alive today who claim to believe that it is proper (and required) that ex-Muslims be killed.

    Is it intellectually dishonest of me to point out empirical data?

    “many reformist Muslims, using orthodox Islamic texts only, are now saying that apostasy is only punishable by death if it is done for treason reasons…”

    Well, now… that’s so very progressive.
    Translation: It’s acceptable to murder people for thought crimes, for believing the “wrong” things, but only if their ideas make us feel threatened and uncomfortable.
    That is horrific and disgusting. And any institution or ideology which would seriously promote such horrors can be worthy only of our contempt, revulsion, and steadfast resistance.

    “I love how you use adjectives to try and give credibility to your argument.”

    Ah, yes, because in the context of someone receiving 100 lashes of a whip, in front of a group self-righteous onlookers, it is altogether hyperbolic to describe their pain as “intense” and their shame as “deep.” This is another pathetic version of your endless attempts to distract and avoid being honest about the corrupt faith-based ideology to which to voluntarily affiliate yourself.

    “The Qur’an says no[t] to show mercy with regards to letting them off the hook, it does not say anything about whipping them hard till they bleed or anything. But, hey, facts don’t matter to you, you just want to spin everything the way you want to.”

    *I* spin everything the way I want too?!? Hah! That’s rich! And where would I find the person who interprets a command to “scourge” the wrongdoers, without mercy, with 100 lashes as somehow allowing for the use of a harmless ribbon as a symbolic whip. Why can’t you just be honest about what your barbaric books instructs? We don’t have to look to the cultural context of time or place for this one, because nobody — other than those who are shamelessly disingenuous or deeply self-deceived — would seriously claim that an order (from “god”), calling for a person to be scourged with 100 lashes, without mercy, could possibly be referring to anything other than the infliction of brutal, injurious punishment of a type and manner as to leave permanent scars, possible disfigurement, and potentially death. But you, in the depths of your delusion, have decided that because your special book fails to specify the force and velocity with which the lash should be administered, that this actually allows for Tickling Them With Ribbons.

    And let us not forget that even in the absurdity of the ribbons, you STILL believe that these two consenting adults should be publicly shamed and symbolically *whipped* for doing nothing more than joyously making love with one another. That is some seriously twisted, sadomasochistic, psychological abuse.

    “Are you going to come on here and say you find AMerica’s use of…”

    Complete and utter non sequitur. It is not the topic raised initially. It is not the topic that you claim you wanted to discuss. It is not a topic which I brought up. Instead, it is little more than cheap rhetorical tactic which attempts to distract from the topic(s) at hand, while also subtly smearing your opponents with crimes which they did not commit and may or may not have ever supported (none of which is relevant to the topic)… and, of course, it is also an example of a Tu Quoque fallacy wherein you attempt to suggest that any “wrong” which might be associated with your side is, at least, nullified by the wrongs allegedly committed by someone else.

    ** Note: the reason you always hear people accusing of engaging in tu quoque fallacies has little or nothing to do with some random nutjob on some irrelevant website somewhere. Instead, the real reason is because the tu quoque fallacy appears to rank highly in your short list of cheap shots and illogical points which you constantly spew out in order to avoid meaningful discussion. **

  • Ahmed said on April 9, 2013 at 6:27 pm

    @CGW,

    Spencer does lie.

    http://littlegreenfootballs.com/article/37400_The_Ludicrous_Lies_of_Robert_Spencer

    “Your continuous claims of having “exposed” others and reigning victorious are hollow and juvenile, typical of the muslim mindset. (prematurely ejaculatory). Thump your chest, proclaim victory! If only wishing made it so!”

    Looks like you’re just upset that I caught you lying. That is why you did not address the point where you lied. I am not thumping my chest trying to proclaim victory – you probably behave that way, and that is why you’re projecting what you feel onto others. You’re not civilised enough to realise that many people, when engaging in debate, aren’t interested in ego trips, but rather the substance.

    The substance here was that I showed your dishonesty.

    For the benefit of others, here I reproduce it.

    Ahmed Says:
    April 7th, 2013 at 1:42 PM :
    “Just to clarify for the last time, I have no problem with someone having criticisms of Islam or Mohammed or anything. I have no problem with someone thinking Islam is worse than any other religion. I know some people who have read both pro and anti Islamic viewpoints, and come to a disfavourable view of Islam – I have no problem with that.”

    And you wrote:
    “I don’t know the reason for your obsession with Robert Spencer, but you must fear his influence greatly, since you accuse everyone with a negative opinion of islam of being some sort of minion of his.”

    So, yes, it is clear you lie. You’re dishonest. I clearly stated that I have no problems with people who have a negative view of Islam. Yet you tried to make it seem I accuse everyone with a negative view of Islam of being some sort of minion of Spencer. So, yes, you lied. You didn’t even try and defend yourself, because you know you lied and that there is no defence. You hypocrisy was exposed, you tried to claim I indulge in ad hominem, when this is what you’re doing here – when I criticise someone whose knowledge of Islam stems from reading Jihad Watch (like you), you try and make it seem that I criticise everyone who is critical of Islam. As you clearly do not know the meaning of ad hominem and have been using it incorrectly, I will educate you here – what you just did is the perfect example of ad hominem.

    Anyway, dude, I know you’re hurting because I did expose your lie, but relax, man, life’s too short to start hurting over what someone said to you over the Internet. Luckily you have anonymity, so no one in your real life will find out you lie, so take a chill pill.

    OK, one more reply to Matthew, and then I am running out of here because the intellectual giant CGW has defeated me in this debate!!! ;)

  • Ahmed said on April 9, 2013 at 6:54 pm

    “You certainly are quick to ascribe beliefs and opinions to me for which you have precisely *no* credible evidence. The only thing you know of me is my previous post, in which my position was, I think, fairly clearly on the side of trying to reduce the suffering and violence which is so often associated with moralistic retributive “justice.” Also, are you suggesting that I live in the US? What’s your evidence?”

    I am making an assumption based on the style of your post, from past experience, Americans tend to post very similarly like you. But, yes, I could be wrong, in which case I am willing to stand corrected, much like I corrected myself when someone pointed out my attack on Harris was wrong as I got my surveys muddled up: “April 4th, 2013 at 8:23 AM
    Yes, you’re right. I stand corrected. I did notice that The Pew Trust did not provide any figures on who they sampled, and exactly what the question was, so I have emailed them asking them to provide this information.”

    “You *love* to accuse everyone else around here of lacking integrity”

    Actually, I don’t. I have not accused Robby of lacking integrity, I said one statement of his is a lie, but other than that, I actually praised him, even though him and I have profoundly different views on Sam Harris.

    I have accused Fred M and CGW of lacking integrity, and I have stated my reasons why.

    You wrote:
    “Well, if you crucified Dick Cheney, or those Americans who have tortured people, then I would not consider it immoral.”

    So, you don’t believe that crucifixion is a form of torture? Or you don’t really mind torture, as long as it is in the context of retributive justice? (As long as you don’t personally have to get blood on your hands, of course.) For myself, I would never crucify anybody, for any reason. ”

    Now, here I WILL accuse you of lacking integrity. My quote was:
    “Immoral? Well, if you crucified Dick Cheney, or those Americans who have tortured people, then I would not consider it immoral. I still wouldn’t torture them, but that would not be for moral reasons, it would be because I do not like to inflict pain on people.”

    Yet you have just reproduced the first part of my quote, and totally ignored the second part of my quote where I said I would NOT torture Dick Cheney. I gave my moral judgement on whether inflicting pain on someone who has inflicted pain on others is immoral? And I said, no, I do not think it is immoral. But just because something isn’t immoral, it doesn’t mean I support it. It’s a bit like asking if executing a mass murderer is immoral. No, I do not think it is, but I still don’t support capital punishment.
    So, yes, you deliberately ignored the part of my quote where I made i explicitly clear I would not crucify someone. Now you need to do some serious soul-searching, why is it that you like to quote out of context, and why is it that you like to quote only part of what someone has said.

    So, yes, to summarise before I “run away” from these HONEST *giggle*, intellectual civilised giants here *wink wink*, people need to ask themselves why they are happy to only read one side of the argument, why they are happy to try and pretend they have a good knowledge on a topic when they don’t, and why people are happy to misquote and “paraquote” others.

    Finally, here is an interesting article by atheist Neil Godfrey today.

    http://vridar.wordpress.com/2013/04/06/islamophobia-and-some-new-atheists/

    The comments section is really interesting, because the comments section have exactly the same type of disingenous individuals like CGW, Fred M and Matthew who are paranoid and unable to see the world in anything other than black and white, whereas Neil Godfrey argues back using logic and reasoning.

  • CGW said on April 9, 2013 at 7:49 pm

    @Ahmed

    There you go again, dodging, deflectling and ducking.

    A mental midget such as yourself must needs resort to the work of others even to propagate slander. I won’t go to a link to read YOUR evidence. Reproduce it here yourself, where it can be confronted and countered, or admit defeat.

    Your definition of a “lie” is curious. You *claim* not to object to rigorous criticism of islam (you even have a FRIEND that is an infidel! Are some of your best friends black, as well?) and yet you have pounced on every single example of those who oppose it, denying the validity of their research. Your predilection for conspiracy theories (typical of muslim societies – “the Jews did it”) causes you to lump together anyone who dares oppose your unique vision of islamic ideology into a band of “dishonest” agitators who only criticize islam for purposes of their own agenda while blindly refusing to acknowledge that reasonable individuals could find islamic precepts and practices horrific and unconscionable. Yet my pointing out this obvious prejudice is “lying”? And I am to take you at your word, when you refuse to take me at mine? How are you privileged to sit in judgment of detractors of islam while we are not afforded the same opportunity with regard to such a primitive, barbaric belief system? Your hypocrisy is rife.

    Lies? You posted an article that lied about the proposed debate between the anonymous coward “Danios of Loonwatch” and Robert Spencer. We are to believe, according to what you have stated repeatedly on this thread, that you only post these articles in order to clarify your own positions on various subjects. I countered those lies with a statement contradicting them, yet you conveniently avoid this subject in your response to me. Who is the liar, and behind what or whom are you hiding? You expect us to read your “sources” – did you read Spencer’s article? Why not?

    The only liar here is the one who has steadfastly refused to take a definitive stance against the torture and murder prescribed by his own theology, continuously dodging and deflecting, because to do so would result in the commission of blasphemy. The good news is that the majority of dar-al-harb will not be fooled by this nonsense much longer. The availability of information about islamic perfidy on the internet and its widespread transmission and dissemination guarantees the demise of that anti-humanist ideology.

    I posted this above but you seem not to have availed yourself of the help. Read up, man. It can only help:

    http://www.logicalfallacies.info/

  • Ahmed said on April 9, 2013 at 8:24 pm

    @CGW,

    Shucks, looks like I really upset you.

    “Obama is a Muslim trying to impose Shariah” – what percentage of Americans believe that again?

    The answer:
    “In August 2010, a Pew Research poll showed that 18% of Americans and 30% of Republicans believed that Obama is a Muslim.”

    Hmmm, so that is 56 million Americans believe that Obama is a secret Muslim!!! But, hey, that isn’t a conspiracy theory, because Robert Spencer’s friend Pamela Geller said so!!! *wink wink*

    Anyway, dude, you still don’t get logical fallacies, and no matter how much you post a link to it, it doesn’t mean you still get it! Hey, look, I’m posting a link to a site explaining Quantum Mechanics, that makes me an expert on the topic!!! LOL!

    I think I better stop now, mum always taught me not to make fun of people who are intellectually lacking, and so I don’t think it is right that I should sit here and mock you. You do seem really upset though, so I’ll give you advice as a human being to another human being, look dude, I don’t know know how old you are man, but whether you’re 18 or 68, it still doesn’t matter, life’s too short, so instead of sitting here getting all upset, and typing away in anger, switch off your computer, go out, and have some fun! Ciao!

  • Ahmed said on April 9, 2013 at 8:29 pm

    OK, my last post on this thread, I will not visit it any more because I am running away from CGW!!! – or maybe it is because I think the temptation to have one more laugh at CGW desperately trying to make us believe he understands logical fallacies will be too great!!!!

    So before I leave, I will get back on topic, and here is an interesting post by PZ Myers (who hates Islam) on Harris.

    http://freethoughtblogs.com/pharyngula/2013/04/08/head-and-heart-atheists/

  • CGW said on April 9, 2013 at 9:37 pm

    @Ahmed

    What in the world are you talking about? Obama a muslim? What does that possibly have to do with what we’ve been discussing? Oh, I get it – deflect attention away from your inability to respond substantively to the matter at hand and show your expertise on the use of a non sequitur.

    I am far from upset. I never feel anger toward an inferior, only mild annoyance. Ignorance can be countered with information and education, but you can’t fix stupid. I feel pity that you have so embarrassed yourself publicly. (Those are ad hominems, btw.) And thanks for caring, but my life is full of enjoyment. I actually find it enjoyable to watch mohammedans squirm trying to distance themselves from the perversity of their “religion” without repudiating it outright. You know your beliefs are effed-up when you constantly have to justify/rationalize them to the civilized world.

    Since registration is now required at faithfreedom.org, where are you going to hang out from now on in the attempt to whitewash islam and fool the infidel world? I know – you should go to jihadwatch.org and hang out in the comments section and really teach all those filthy kuffar a thing or two! Or are you afraid? That could be your own special jihad, or struggle. Remember, jihad is fard ayn.

  • Fred M said on April 9, 2013 at 10:52 pm

    Ahmed,

    I will try to address some of your allegations; I don’t have time to address them all:

    Re Bat Ye’or, I didn’t say I agreed with everything she wrote, such as the more recent book on Eurabia, which I haven’t read. How could I agree with something I have not read and did not suggest? What I read and referred to were her earlier books on the dhimmi and dhimmitude, which were praised by others, and which were validated by similar works done by Mary Boyce, who examined the Zoroastrians under the dhimma under Islamic rule…though of course the selective sample of Islam apologists you cite did not praise Bat Ye’or. It is unimportant to me whether the term dhimmitude or some other phrase like “condition under the dhimma” is used (though the former is more succinct); what matters is the substance of the policies and how the dhimmis were subjugated under Islamic rule. This is to say nothing of the institution of slavery under Islam, which lasted for over a thousand years.

    Re the jizya…it was a payment so that non-Muslim dhimmis would be “protected” from otherwise being killed or enslaved by Muslims. (In other words, it is like buying “protection” from the mafia, pay them and they won’t kill you). Non-Muslims not under the dhimma or other formal treaty with Muslims were either slaves or regarded as harbis, i.e., considered by default as at war with Islam and therefore lawful to kill. Any violation of the terms of the dhimma, such as “insulting” Muhammad, violated the terms of the dhimma, causing the dhimmi to lose his or her status, and therefore made slaying him or her lawful. In short, dhimmis under Islamic rule historically had to obey Islamic laws, similar to how non-Muslims today living in Islamic countries have to obey Islamic laws (or laws derived therefrom), or face the punishments.

    You wrote:
    “2) “I didn’t say I studied Arabic to the point of becoming a fluent speaker; I said I studied the Arabic for some key words (some of which I’ve touched upon above)”
    Did you consult classical Arabic dictionaries, or modern one? You do realise there is a difference, yes? Or, did you read some article by someone who knows Arabic and read their commentary, and are trying to pass it off as your own? Like, when you talk about qtl, did you just get your understanding of it from here?”

    One of my main sources is Lane’s Lexicon, which you can see by following my corpus quran links above. Anyways, are you suggesting q-t-l in the verses I cited doesn’t refer to killing? Otherwise, since that would be ludicrous, what’s your point? As I said, I’ve studied Arabic terms that are relevant to Islamic law, and Islamic law includes the legislation of jihad warfare, which of course includes killing, q-t-l in the way of Allah, as is mentioned in your Qur’an. If you find a source that says q-t-l means hugs and kisses in classical Arabic, let me know.

    You wrote, re your request that I read your article:
    “Hmmm, are you sure? ;) Surely if you’re interested in debate, and if someone tells you the answer is here, you would want to go and read it, because you had “supposedly” read them a long time ago, and so you would want to read them again.”

    As I already told you, I had read it a long time ago, then re-read it after you posted the link. It doesn’t contain a clear answer to my question about all those verses I cited about killing and subjugation. Are you not paying attention?

    “As for criticisms of Muhammad, well, Muhammad is criticsed in the Qur’an itself, and as someone who has read it “many” times, I would have expected you to know this.”

    If you are talking about references to Muhammad’s sins (e.g., 48:2), then yes, I do know this. But feel free to keep making empty and irrelevant accusations. Are you also aware that most of the references to Muhammad/the Messenger in the Qur’an are positive, and many of them compliment and praise him? Are you also aware that the Qur’an says Muhammad is a good example to follow (33:21)?

    Again, you didn’t answer my question: Do you have any criticisms of Muhammad, and if so what are these? Same question for the Qur’an.

    I note that you have avoided my question about acceptance of the Hadith in principle, i.e., that there are amongst the various hadith collections some valid of genuine reports of Muhammad’s example and instructions etc. that should be implemented in Islamic law and followed by Muslims?

    “5) “Danios the author adds the word “belligerence” to 9:29, which is not in the verse, unless you think rejecting Islam and Muhammad is belligerence.”
    No he hasn’t. Stop lying. What Danios writes is:
    “Islamic reformers in the nineteenth century, however, argued that jizya is to be demanded only of those disbelievers who have “violated their pledges (of peace)…and attacked you first” (Quran, 9:13), those whose belligerence must be “subdued” (Quran, 9:29).””

    To be more precise, he doesn’t actually quote belligerence; he adds the term as though he believes it correctly describes the contents of 9:29, which doesn’t say anything about belligerence unless, again, you view rejecting Muhammad and Islam as belligerence so terrible as to justify killing and subjugating those rejecters. On the other hand, if he means what you suggest, then the reformists in question are adding a term that isn’t in the verse, again, unless you take belligerence as implied from the rejecting of Muhammad and Islam.

    So Ahmed, you started by making a false claim about Harris’ stats on the percentage of U.K. Muslims who want the death penalty for apostasy, and you end by running away once I get to the question of exactly how much and which elements of the Hadith you support, as your responses above indicate that you as a believing pious Muslim accept the Hadith in principle.

    You wrote:
    “What you fail to mention is that the tax was then used to protect them and allow them to practise their religion.”

    Why should non-Muslims have to pay the Islamic authority so that they can practice their religion? And what about atheists?

    You wrote:
    “I mean, if Muslims in America decided they will not pay tax, what will happen to them? They will get arrested and thrown in prison. Is this subjugation?”

    Muslims and non-Muslims in America are treated the same regarding tax laws. Under an Islamic state, non-Muslims and Muslims are treated differently. For example, under Islamic rule historically, if a dhimmi did not pay the jizya he was either executed or enslaved. Also, in Islamic countries today, non-Muslims who criticize Islam or Muhammad are typically criminally prosecuted and punished, sometimes with the death penalty; whereas Muslims are typically allowed to freely criticize non-Muslim beliefs.

  • CGW said on April 9, 2013 at 11:02 pm

    @Ahmed:

    One more instance of “dishonesty”:

    Ahmed wrote:

    ” A perfect example of the hypocrisy of such individuals is this case, they say Muhammad married Aisha when she was 9, and they say the proof of this is something which is written in the Hadith by Sahih Bukhari. Now there is another Hadith by Sahih Bukhari that clearly implies that Aisha was at least 14 when she got married to Muhammad. Now any honest, reasonable person would say that if source X says A and B, and A and B are contradicting, then we cannot be sure which of A and B are true. So one would come to the conclusion that Aisha might have been 9 or she might have been 14.”

    Ah, such an oversimplification of the evidence! I’m sure you are fully aware that there are numerous ahadith describing Aisha’s age as six upon marriage and nine upon consummation of said marriage. You have disingenuously tried to portray it as a one-against-one retelling of the story. Although you dislike non-islamic sources, this is a thorough compilation of the most widely-recognized relevant passages (I stopped counting at twenty):

    http://answering-islam.org/Shamoun/prepubescent.htm

    Buhkari alone contains FOUR. Can you post the ONE from Bukhari that contradicts them?

  • Fred M said on April 10, 2013 at 12:15 am

    Ahmed says:

    “Now there is another Hadith by Sahih Bukhari that clearly implies that Aisha was at least 14 when she got married to Muhammad.”

    Aisha herself, according to the source you cite as authoritative, would disagree:

    Sahih Bukhari, Volume 7, Book 62, Number 64:
    Narrated ‘Aisha:
    that the Prophet married her when she was six years old and he consummated his marriage when she was nine years old, and then she remained with him for nine years (i.e., till his death).

    Sahih Bukhari, Volume 7, Book 62, Number 65:
    Narrated ‘Aisha:
    that the Prophet married her when she was six years old and he consummated his marriage when she was nine years old. Hisham said: I have been informed that ‘Aisha remained with the Prophet for nine years (i.e. till his death).” what you know of the Quran (by heart)’

    Sahih Bukhari, Volume 7, Book 62, Number 90:
    Narrated Aisha:
    When the Prophet married me, my mother came to me and made me enter the house (of the Prophet) and nothing surprised me but the coming of Allah’s Apostle to me in the forenoon.

    Sahih Bukhari, Volume 8, Book 73, Number 151:
    Narrated ‘Aisha:
    I used to play with the dolls in the presence of the Prophet, and my girl friends also used to play with me. When Allah’s Apostle used to enter (my dwelling place) they used to hide themselves, but the Prophet would call them to join and play with me. (The playing with the dolls and similar images is forbidden, but it was allowed for ‘Aisha at that time, as she was a little girl, not yet reached the age of puberty.) (Fateh-al-Bari page 143, Vol.13)

    ——————

    So you are using a Hadith collection in which Aisha herself says she was 9 when Muhammad “consummated” the marriage (and perhaps you would like to tell us about the Arabic word used there that the translators present as “consummated”, right? Since you are so eager to tell us all about Arabic?), but you claim you have a more complex scheme of interpretation whereby Aisha doesn’t know her own age?

    Perhaps you should explain that to your more knowledgeable coreligionist contemporaries, rather than wasting time trying to convince us infidels that Islam is so great, fair, and

    http://www.islam-qa.com/index.php?ref=22442&ln=eng
    “Marrying a young girl before she reaches the age of adolescence is permitted in sharee’ah; indeed it was narrated that there was scholarly consensus on this point.
    [al-Talaaq 65:4]
    In this verse we see that Allaah has made the ‘iddah in the case of divorce of a girl who does not have periods – because she is young and has not yet reached puberty – three months. This clearly indicates that Allaah has made this a valid marriage.”

    http://www.sistani.org/local.php?modules=nav&nid=2&bid=59&pid=3093
    “Divorce » Iddah of Divorce
    2519. A wife who is under nine and who is in her menopause will not be required to observe any waiting period. It means that, even if the husband has had sexual intercourse with her, she can remarry immediately after being divorced.
    2520. If a wife who has completed nine years of her age and is not in menopause, is divorced by her husband after sexual intercourse, it is necessary for her to observe the waiting period of divorce. [...]
    2524. If a woman who has completed nine years of age, and is not in menopause, contracts a temporary marriage, for example, if she marries a man for a period of one month or a year and the period of her marriage comes to an end, or her husband exempts her from the remaining period, she should observe Iddah. If she sees Haidh, she should observe Iddah for two periods of Haidh, and cannot marry again during that period.
    But if she does not see Haidh, then she should refrain from marrying another man for forty five days. And if she is pregnant, she should observe Iddah till the birth or miscarriage of the child, or for forty five days and as a recommended precaution, she should wait for whichever period is longer. [...]“

  • Reece said on April 15, 2013 at 1:58 am

    Murtaza Hussain’s article, in the way it interweaves Sam Harris quotes taken out of context with anecdotes about 19th-century pseudoscience, reads like a paper by an undergraduate poli sci major at Vassar. It’s so sophomoric and facially dishonest that it’s not even worth responding to. It actually managed to decrease my respect for Al Jazeera’s journalistic standards.

  • NoDogma said on April 21, 2013 at 5:37 pm

    @ Murtaza: From your own piece: “Islam is not a religion”

    Please re-read that until it sinks in.

    Also, it should not be said of a scientist who, say, finds evidence that Pacific Islanders and Caucasians are more likely to be obese than those in other groups, and who even rightly points out that they must be proportionately targeted in any efforts to fully rein in obesity, that he “conciously lends his scientific expertise to the legitimation of racist policies”.

    The scientist in this case would be just stating the truth with no personal spin on the matter. In fact there would not even be any opportunity to insert personal racism here. It would be the same regardless of the race of said scientist and regardless of the groups most affected by obesity.

    The decision by someone like you, however, to accuse this scientist of being racist would itself be a racist act. A simple demonstration of this would be to see how much your likelihood of making this accusation would change depending on the race of the scientist in question.

  • NoDogma said on April 21, 2013 at 5:45 pm

    @ Ahmed: Re: “displaying the traits of religious fanatics”

    I submit that propensities to attack embassies and kill people over drawings and movies are much more clearly traits of religious fanatics than those you mentioned.

    Also, way to generalize your comment to all atheists while at the same time decrying “cherry-picking the nasty bits of religion and ignoring the good bits”.

  • NoDogma said on April 21, 2013 at 5:51 pm

    @ Danny: Re: “I would still call Harris and Hitchens religious fanatics. They are fanatics of the state religion”

    Do I have to break out this old chestnut? Saying Sam and Christopher are religious is like saying you like Mr. Clean’s hair colour.

    Expand your vocabulary.

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