Sunday, January 20, 2008

Muslims Against Sharia


The title refers to an organization, Muslims Against Sharia (MASH), that has a
website.

One cannot help but feel their name is a grievously naive oxymoron, sort of like “Nazis Against National Socialism” or “The KKK against racism”.


Since I discovered their website a couple of weeks ago, they have been gracious enough to publish my comments and leave them there—most of them rather critical of them.
However, I posted a question recently that they apparently saw fit not to publish. My question proposed one “litmus test” to prove the sincerity and substance of any Muslim who claims, as they do, to be really “moderate”.

My question in a nutshell is: What would you Muslims of MASH do if, in the society you live in, certain people started going around publicly mocking Mohammed? Would you believe in allowing them under law to continue and to protect them under law, because you value the principle of free expression? Or do you believe in punishing the mockers in one way or another?

This would not be the only question for the litmus test. A whole battery of questions would be necessary. But its a start. My question was prompted by reading one of the MASH individuals respond on their site to a commenter skeptical of their authentic moderation, by offering their own litmus question, phrased rhetorically: Would we say that Mohammeds marriage to Aisha at age 6 and consummation of that marriage when she was 9 constitutes pedophilia, if we were not really moderates?

There is a problem with their rhetorical question, however. The MASH movement is a Koran-only movement, and they consider the Sunna and giant chunks of Islamic tradition to be so much bad trash to be thrown out. The story of Mohammed marrying Aisha comes from the Sunna, not the Koran. So the MASH people are not really condemning Mohammed at all with their rhetorical question—they are simply condemning what they deem to be a false construct of Mohammed created by later Muslims (in the Hadiths).

Their fanciful project of throwing out most of Islamic texts and history, thus, brings to mind another litmus question (and its radiating sub-questions): How precisely do they maintain a good and worthy Mohammed and how would they, using reason applied to actual history, defend this good and worthy Mohammed? Or are they simply constructing a mythically good Mohammed to be placed in opposition to the mythically bad Mohammed of the Sunna?


I hope their attention meanders its way through the interstices of the Internet to my site here (as it already has in at least one charming comment they made recently on my other blog; to wit, when they posted a tart riposte“wont you please just shut the fuck up!”to one of my essays there about how the term “moderate Muslim” has lost its usefulness), and I hope they see fit to answer these questions to my satisfaction.

8 comments:

Muslims Against Sharia said...

‘“Nazis Against National Socialism” or “The KKK against racism”’

You’re comparing apples and oranges. The proper analogy would be “Christians against the Inquisition”. Racism is a founding principle of any white supremacy movement, but Sharia is not an integral part of Islam, but rather a reviled relic of the past.

“I posted a question recently that they apparently saw fit not to publish.”

You are mistaken. Your question was published and so was our answer.

Erich said...

‘“Nazis Against National Socialism” or “The KKK against racism”’

"You’re comparing apples and oranges. The proper analogy would be “Christians against the Inquisition”. "

That would be the proper analogy, if it were already established that Islam itself is not an intolerant and racist system of supremacist and expansionist imperialism. That Islam is not any of those things needs to be established, before my analogy is repudiated. So far, 1400 years of history of Islam right up to the present day news + the foundational texts of Islam tend to support the appropriateness of my analogy.

"Racism is a founding principle of any white supremacy movement"

No: Racism is a founding principle of any supremacy movement -- white, black, brown, yellow, red or purple.

"Sharia is not an integral part of Islam, but rather a reviled relic of the past."

This has to be established in two ways:

1) theoretically with internal consistency

a) using core texts that constitute the belief system of Islam

and

b) offering cogent and well-documented arguments for why certain Muslim scholars and certain Islamic texts are to be rejected as "un-Islamic"

And

2) Pragmatically, as a viable alternative to the views of Muslims who disagree with you. I can tell you right from the get-go that if you try to frame your Muslim opposition as anything LESS than a vast majority who present an extremely formidable force, you will not be taken seriously by intelligent non-Muslims. You can't even begin to mount an effective opposition to something, if you delude yourself about the actual dimensions of that opposition (as you demonstrated recently on your site by referring to Muslims who would oppose changing the Koran as "Some Muslims"...! Similarly, to underestimate the number of Muslims who revere the Sunna is also to be indulging in unreality, and will only undermine your effectiveness in the long run.

"You are mistaken. Your question was published and so was our answer."

I'll check it out, thanks.

Muslims Against Sharia said...

Erich,

"No: Racism is a founding principle of any supremacy movement -- white, black, brown, yellow, red or purple."

That statement wouldn't sound as idiotic if Islam actually were a race.

Erich said...

Muslims Against Sharia,

Islam creates a functional race -- the Believers. And it divides Mankind into two functional races: Believers and Infidels.

The only advantage Islam has over other forms of racism is that the Infidels can join the club, as long as they become Believers and support the ideology. But that has not been much of a moral advantage in history, given how many millions of those who didn't want to join the club have been slaughtered, pillaged, enslaved, raped, thieved, and abused by Muslims over the centurties.

Even with the above process, Islam harbors a tendency toward racism among Arabs feeling they are superior to other races, as well as a rather widespread prejudice against blacks.

Muslims Against Sharia said...

“Islam creates a functional race”

It is really difficult to argue with someone when they start pulling new definitions out of their asses. What’s next? Functional gender? Male, Female, and Islamic?

“Islam harbors a tendency toward racism among Arabs feeling they are superior to other races”

First, “Arab” is not a race either, it’s an ethnicity. Second, Arabs comprise about a third of Muslim population and some of the Arabs do not practice Islam.

Nobody said...

MAS

This is an exercise in semantics - whether Arabs are a race or an ethnic group is tangential to this argument. Erich's point - that Islam creates a group - called Believers - who are then branded as superior to everyone else - is the functional equivalent of what racist groups - be they white, black, brown, grey, pink - do when they declare their own races as superior to others.

The only difference between Islam, and something like, say, Aryan Nation, is that a non-Muslim, can simply by reciting the Shehada, instantly join this group, and then has to start engaging in activities that undermine his former religion, whereas no non-Aryan can join the Aryan Nation. I guess that when the question boils down to whether the non-member in question lives or dies, one could arguably state that Islam is an improvement. Nonetheless, despite the fact that Islam isn't a race, the fact that it creates a group that is deemed superior to all others by mere virtue of membership, and nothing else.

Also, given the fact that non-Arabs, such as Kurds in Iraq and Syria, Black Muslims in Darfur have been persecuted by Arabs on the grounds of not being 'true Muslims' (since they're not Arabs, in the eyes of these governments), he is not wrong in stating that Islam inspires Arab racism towards non-Arabs.

Your point - that only a third of Muslims are Arabs (actually, much less than that) - is irrelevant to the question of whether Islam inspires Arab supremacy. The fact that Arabs constitute a minority might make that supremacy more difficult to practice in non-Arab countries such as Turkey or Iran, but it is certainly alive and well in Sudan, Algeria, Iraq, and even in non Arab countries such as Pakistan and Bangladesh, being Arab like is considered a status symbol.

Muslims Against Sharia said...

“This is an exercise in semantics”

No, it isn’t. Radical Muslim establishment insinuated itself into highest levels of government using the argument of racism. Equating criticism of Islam or even Islamophobia with racism gives Islamists a lot of power.

“The only difference between Islam, and something like, say, Aryan Nation”

"A great many Westerners do not see the clear distinction between Islam and Islamism (Islamofascism). They need to understand that the difference between Islam and Islamism (Islamofascism) is the same as the difference between Christianity and Christian Identity Movement (White Supremacy Movement)."

“Islam inspires Arab supremacy”

It does not.

Erich said...

muslims against sharia,

The commenter above "nobody" articulated my position clearly and well.

“This is an exercise in semantics”

"No, it isn’t. Radical Muslim establishment insinuated itself into highest levels of government using the argument of racism. Equating criticism of Islam or even Islamophobia with racism gives Islamists a lot of power."

You are confusing two uses of the term "racism". You are correct that what you call the "Radical Muslim establishment" like to use the term "racism" in order to smear anybody who raises criticisms of them (and even criticisms of Islam at all). That is a separate issue from whether Islam in its history has practiced a type of racism by creating a sort of "master race" of Muslims who are superior to everybody else on Earth -- an ideology of supremacism connected to a religious and eschatological fanaticism that justifies (and has justified for centuries) imperialistic conquest and all sorts of violence and abuse of non-Muslims from the Pacific Ocean to the Atlantic. Muslims have in fact done this throughout the history of Islam, and continue to do it today as best they can, given the abysmal military weakness and technological/scientific/economic stagnation they have sunk into in the past 300 years (it's easier to pick on relatively unsophisticated Thai Buddhists or Filipino Christians or black Africans, for example, than it is to launch any invasions of more sophisticated Western countries, as Muslims in fact did do for centuries in the past).

"A great many Westerners do not see the clear distinction between Islam and Islamism (Islamofascism)."

You came kind of late to the party. People like me and "nobody" (I've had many conversations with him) and others who, for example, frequent the Jihad Watch site have been evolving in our thoughts about the problem of Islam. Many years ago, we believed in your distinction between the "ism" of "Islamism", and Islam. After years of reading (both Muslim writings and non-Muslim critiques) and years of discussing, we don't believe in that distinction anymore.

If you are going to argue that distinction, you are going to have to do a hell of a lot of heavy lifting to persuade us to re-think what we have painstakingly concluded after years. But hey, there are millions of less well-read non-Muslims out there who are more naive and gullible than we are, and who have a low-level semi-conscious anxiety and fear about the metastasizing problem of Islam -- who desperately need to believe in a "good Islam" and a vast population of "good Muslims" out there who will save us from the pathological insanity we see pullulating out of the Muslim world, and out of the Muslim psyche. They will readily swallow your distinction without skeptically demanding sound argumentation and evidence.

We won't.