Friday, September 16, 2011
A Muslim forum that supposedly encourages debate with non-Muslims and self-critical analysis
A few weeks ago, I joined a forum called The Islam Factor which, as my title indicates, supposedly encourages debate with non-Muslims and self-critical analysis. That's not all the forum does -- it's also evidently a place for Muslims to network in various ways amongst themselves. But the fact that they offer the former at all, was for me a glimmer of hope for at least some faint resemblance of an actual discussion.
Unsurprisingly, I've been disappointed in my time there. I have created a few threads to try to spark debate, but have either (typically) received tart ripostes of hypersensitive umbrage, vague platitudes with little substance, or -- most often -- no response at all.
One of the threads I created there, for example, I titled "Giving Up Hope on Islam" (posted in the section called "The Cage"), in which I articulated (with rhetorical generousness) how I am this close to giving up hope entirely on Muslims, and what I need to see from them to begin to rekindle hope for dialogue. The predictable response has been as I described above. And for the last several days I have seen nothing there but tumbleweeds blowing across an empty landscape of Muslim indifference.
Another thread I created -- in the amusingly named section called "The Crescent Consortium", where they more frontally invite "inter-faith" discussions -- was titled "Where is the Public Argument Between Muslims?". I introduced that thread with the point that we non-Muslims do not see the supposedly Good Muslims debate the Bad Muslims -- when, in fact, particularly since the Good Muslims are supposed to be the vast majority in the Muslim world, we should be seeing frequent, regular, direct, public and substantive debates based solidly in Islamic texts and laws -- debates that substantiate for us non-Muslims the claims the Good Muslims are always making, about how Islam is sugar & spice and everything nice and that all (or most) Muslims are good people; and debates which humiliate and expose the Bad Muslims for, in fact, not following Islam.
But, of course, we never see this.
And, of course, my thread received the predictable non-responses (including silence) from all the Muslims at The Islam Factor supposedly eager to engage in "inter-faith" discussions.
In that same thread, I noted the problem of the meme of the Tiny Minority of Extremists, and its logical corollary -- that the vast majority of Muslims must be relatively good decent people. If this is true, I posed, then why isn't this vast majority stopping the tiny minority? Surely, it should be relatively easy to do so. But we see no signs of the vast majority even trying to do so.
To this, a well-intentioned asymptotic non-Muslim member of the forum responded with a more or less Pipesian comment:
"It's a minority, I believe, but a significant minority."
To which I responded:
Any hypothesis (and that's all it is) of a putative "minority" of bad Muslims has to account for the massive, widespread, near-universal phenomenon of the supposed majority of good Muslims doing nothing to stop the bad Muslims.
Not only do the good Muslims do nothing (with exceptions so rare they prove the rule) on a physical level (which, since they supposedly vastly outnumber them, should be relatively easy to do), they do nothing on a legal level, a political level, a theological level and an ideological level (the latter two involving robust debates where the good Muslims demonstrate directly to the bad Muslims -- with massive textual evidence from 1) the Koran, 2) the Sunnah (including the Hadiths), and 3) the Figh -- how the bad Muslims are Islamically wrong).
Again, just to pre-empt a common caveat that comes up (indeed, Rhoda did so above): a majority, a vast majority, can surely deal with physical threats and intimidation from a putative small minority (however "significant" that minority is).
(And this business of a "significant" minority employs a rather vague fudge factor that seems to be having its cake and eating it too:
a) on the one hand, this "significant" minority is small enough to spare the analyst from the "prejudice" and "bigotry" of condemning too many Muslims
b) on the other hand, the "significant" part is supposed to add just enough weight and meat to lend some no-nonsense credibility of realism to the analyst, to show that he is taking the problem seriously.
The only problem with this is that it smells like a manipulating device, rather than an actual response to the data -- the horrible systemic data -- of Muslims following their Islam.)
Back to my main thesis:
The fact that this has not taken place -- "this" being everything I articulated in my first paragraph above -- and that more often than not what we get from good Muslims is what we see here on The Islam Factor -- prevarications, obfuscations, surly unresponsive remarks that take hypersensitive prickly umbrage at the critic and questioner rather than a sincere show of responsive concern in good faith; or, more often as I have learned from my time here, no response at all -- demonstrates that at the very least the majority of Muslims are more or less passively enabling (and thus doing nothing to stop, when they could easily do so) the evil and dangerous monstrosity which Islam is textually and historically, and which the supposed "minority" (however "tiny" or "significant" it is) is trying to revive.
And when these unresponsive and evasive tactics are not deployed by Muslims, what we see more often than not from Muslims, when we ask them to address the systemic problem their Islam obviously manifests, are elaborate displays of vague platitudes about how "Islam is peaceful" and "We are against terrorism" without ever tangibly, concretely, substantively, directly dealing with our numerous important concerns about Islam and the systemic problems it is causing the world. Enough is enough. We need to see some substance from Muslims now.