Have you ever been in the position where you feel that there is such a great question of justice or morals at stake that you cannot but speak up? I have. It is natural to speak up for right rather than wrong, just as it would be natural to step in if we saw a child being hurt or abused.
That’s very much how I feel about speaking up about the ideology of Islam and its effects on both Muslim and non-Muslim alike. It is something that I wish I didn’t have to do, but find myself driven to do.
There are some political ideologies that offend, and they offend because of what they do to people, to individuals. We can look at fascism and communism and see that they were and are ideologies that do not value human life. In both of them, the individual at the bottom has no value as an individual human, the only worth they have is their worth to the Reich, or the Soviet or whatever other words we can find to describe the various forms of nasty collectivisms that this world has endured.
Now we must speak about the ideology of Islam and not lie about it, nor be lulled by the lies used to describe it. There is much beauty in Arabic poetry and language, much grace in Islamic design and there are many Muslim individuals who are good, kind people. However, although good people must be treated in a good and just manner, that doesn’t mean that a person’s beliefs should be indulged or assisted. This is especially true when it involves a belief like Islam which is predominantly violent, even though it can produce individuals who are not. Having amazing calligraphy or helping to invent or discover the idea of ‘zero’ cannot overwrite those occasions where Islam has behaved with bestial violence.
Even if there were occasions in the past where Islam and its followers have not engaged in violence, this doesn’t wipe away the stain of Islamic violence in the contemporary world. For example: Just because a person can point to an admirable Islamic person or great and kindly act from the past doesn’t make 9/11, 7/7 nor 11/3 any less tragic or horrific, and it also does not absolve modern Islam and the doctrine of Jihad from blame.
We should tell the truth about Islam, the unvarnished truth, and the truth that both challenges and disturbs us.
We should also recognise that those who promote Islam have no qualms about lying and this can take many forms. It can mean misrepresenting to non-Muslims various passages from Islamic sacred books, dissembling to planning authorities about the numbers who would be using a planned mosque or saying the phrase ‘Islam is a religion of peace’. I find that an attitude of informed cynicism about Islam is helpful when dealing with or reading the statements of Islamic leaders or spokespersons.
The right to freely practise a belief, which is one enjoyed by Muslims in the free world, but denied to non-Muslims in the Islamic world, is a valuable right. Along with freedom to believe should come the freedom for others to criticise that belief and to have other beliefs and to change their beliefs and stop believing.
In Islamic cultures and Islamic societies, there is no generally accepted right to criticise and debate, whether that is concerning matters of politics or religion. It’s plain to see therefore that Islamic societies are considerably less free than our own ones. If it makes some Muslims who live in free societies uncomfortable that criticism and often mocking criticism is allowed, then they have three legitimate choices. They can become comfortable with it, or they can leave for a less free and more Islamic society or if high-profile Islamic leaders and preachers would only express their discomfort in the form of harmless kvetching, there would be less to worry about. Sadly, such people and the organisations that represent them do not wish to have a harmless whinge, they preach sedition openly in mosques and on the streets. The Islamists want to bully, threaten and sometimes corrupt people and organisations to advance the Islamist and Jihadist cause.
Criticism, debate and conflict are sometimes how societies and cultures grow and progress. The Renaissance led in its turn to the Christian Reformation, then to a growing curiosity about how the world worked and a desire to find out about natural mechanisms. This led to the scientific and Industrial Revolutions. After, and sometimes contemporaneously with, these upheavals, at least in Britain, came the emancipation of slaves and Jews and the removal of the penalties for being Roman Catholic. This steady march of the recognition of the rights of the individual has culminated in today’s free societies where a person is judged, or at least it is accepted that they should be judged, on the content of their character and not the colour of their skin or their gender or sexuality. None of these advances in freedom could have been achieved without some form of criticism, conflict or debate.
By intelligently criticising the ideology of Islam, we not only inform those who are at risk from being oppressed by it, we also plant the spark of freedom in the minds and hearts of those who are reluctant Muslims. When we speak up about Islam, we should not only think of ourselves or our families or neighbours or our nation but we should also think of those millions of Muslims whose lives, especially the female ones, are often hellish because the societies they live in are controlled by the anti-individual and often anti-human ideology of Islam.
Challenging Islam will hopefully do much to encourage the Muslims of the future themselves to debate Islam and begin to see it as others see it. There is almost nothing that I desire more, than for there to be a form of Islam that does walk a peaceful path and which isn’t violent or supremacist. I’d be proud to walk alongside such people. However, such a desirable state of affairs will not come about unless people criticise Islam, and point out forcefully where it is wrong, and also where and how its beliefs and practises are incompatible with the values of civilised societies. A religion that stifles debate and does not allow change will become increasingly ossified and anachronistic and irrelevant to many people. If Islam does not learn to bend by taking on board later advances in knowledge, then it will break and will only be able to be held together by violence and coercion. It is for the good of Islam as well as for the good of the rest of us, that I urge you to speak out.
About ‘Speak your mind about Islam day’ 2013
Last Year’s Speak your mind about Islam day piece from here