An argument against Cultural Christianity (or Christian Atheism)

If you’ve been around both atheistic and conservative circles, you may well have encountered people who identify themselves as Cultural Christians. Sometimes referred to as Secular Christians, these are people who formally do not believe in God and reject the supernatural claims of the Bible and the Christian faith, but nonetheless ascribe to the religious doctrine and philosophy of Christianity either because they identify with it on a cultural level or because they feel that it is the best moral framework available for a broad society. In The Satanic Bible, Anton LaVey referred to such people as Christian Atheists.

Of course the term isn’t confined solely to neckbeards on the Internet who wish they were born in the Middle Ages so they can LARP as Crusaders only in real life. The term also has some purchase in the New Atheist movement: Richard Dawkins, despite his strident criticism of Christianity and indeed all of religion, has referred to himself as a Cultural Chrisitan, stating in the past that he sings carols like most British people do and resists the charge of being “Christianophobic” – a term no less of a fraudulent political label than Islamophobia and is simply used by conservative Christians to scaremonger about the secularizing of society. There is also a somewhat more malevolent aspect to the term: it was utilized by the infamous Norwegian terrorist Anders Breivik in his manifesto, and I suspect because of this the position has its associations with white nationalists and alt-righters (which doesn’t make a lot of sense to me; I mean, if you’re a white nationalist concerned with the European “volk”, why would you pay lip service to religion based on a Jewish deity?). I have never subscribed to the Cultural Christian label, and in this post I intend to show that the main arguments in support of such a position are fallacious and delusional.

The main argument held by Cultural Christians seems to be that Christianity is the basis of the loose collection of ideas we refer to as the Western canon, or Western Civilization, thus to support Western civilization is to support Christianity from a cultural position. However, a cursory glance at European history (both Christian and pre-Christian) and the teachings of the Bible easily disrupts this premise.

Do you like democracy? Well, Western democracy didn’t originate in the Bible. It arguably originated in ancient Greece, in the Republic of Athens. Sure, it wasn’t perfect (women couldn’t vote and slavery was a thing back then), but it was also one of the early attempts at direct democracy – voters would have their say on every legislative issue. The Athenians were also so invested in their democratic system, and this even permeates into their normative attitudes; namely that they derided people who took no interest in politics, and considered them foolish and ignorant. Outside of Greece, the Roman Republic was another early form of Western democracy, in fact it was a classical example of representative democracy, where the electorate would appoint representatives to the legislature rather directly ratify each issue. There’s also the Althing in Viking Age Iceland, which is widely considered to be one of the earliest forms of parliamentary democracy. Similar assemblies where also held throughout the Germanic world, and even in Britain where they were referred to as folkmoots by the Saxons. All of this before Christianity took over in the respective territories, under the auspices of pre-Christian religious traditions. In contrast, the Bible implies that democracy is a bad thing because humans cannot govern themselves and that those who challenge a prophet of God in support of democracy will be destroyed by God. The feudal system that characterized much of Europe during the Middle Ages was justified with the doctrine of the Great Chain of Being – a Christian concept which entails a rigid hierarchical order that stratifies all creation as ordained by God.

Pictured: democracy in action

Do you like freedom of speech? The Bible actually forbids this to some extent, with one of the Ten Commandments forbidding cursing and Colossians 3:8 condemning “filthy language”. Publications and universities were once controlled by the Catholic Church, and in 1543 they decreed that no publication could be distributed without the permission of the Church. European rulers during the Christian age also used the state to control scientific publications and artistic expressions deemed threatening to public morality and the Christian faith. The Inquisition was another way of controlling publications, specifically the regulation of the import of books to colonies in the Americas by the Peruvian Inquisition. And as will be delved into further later on, the Catholic Church punished intellectuals who denied important teachings of the Church. Of course, this is one instance when the pre-Christian world wasn’t much better, with Socrates being poisoned by the Greek state for “corrupting” the minds of the people with skepticism and the office of the censor in Rome being the origin of the word censorship. In fact, the notion of freedom of speech as was understood since the Enlightenment was probably not practiced throughout much of the ancient world, and was chiefly defended by a handful of philosophers.

Human rights? While England did establish the Magna Carta, it was opposed by the Catholic Church that dominated Europe and annulled by the Pope. And the Protestants were far from better, rounding up non-believers and women to be burned at the stake for absurd charges of witchcraft, diabolism and conspiracy to commit such things. Also, a little thing called The Inquistion anyone? Not to mention the occasional slaughter of pagans in Europe such as in the Massacre of Verden, and the brutal conquest of native tribes in Latin America and elsewhere. The Bible also has several verses in which torture is an approved method of subjugation, persuasion, not to mention redemption, as well as endorsements of slavery.

How about scientific inquiry? Galileo Gallilei was banned from promoting the theory of heliocentrism, which is now well-established as scientific fact, by the Catholic Church and forced to comply with the Church’s declaration that heliocentrism was officially false. Nicolaus Copernicus also faced censure by the Catholic Church, with his book Revolutions banned by the Church. The Catholic Church burned Giordano Bruno for promoting the concept of exoplanets and generally contradicting Catholic doctrine. So needless to say it’s not got a great record on science. Not to mention, although some scientists like Isaac Newton would have considered their inquiry compatible with their faith on the grounds that both science and faith entailed the quest to discover and unlock the secrets of God’s creation, Christianity holds that it is a sin for Man to try and explain God’s mysteries because God is undefinable by nature. The Bible casts a man named Thomas in a negative light for doubting Jesus and asking for proof of his resurrection.

How about preserving the heritage of people? Not only did the Christians have a tendency to destroy pre-Christian cultural artifacts in Europe, destroying idols and temples and replacing them with Christian structures, but they also destroyed the cultural heritage of peoples outside Europe. When the Spanish Christian conquerors arrived upon the Mayan civilization, they not only abolished the native religion but also burned down most of the Maya Codices, thus destroying much of the literature of an entire people and destroying what could have been a source of knowledge on the culture and civilization of that people. The Inquisition in Goa burned many Indian texts, along with many Indians, predominantly Catholic converts who were accused of being crypto-Hindus. They also destroyed Buddhist artifacts that were seized by the Portugese. There are many Saints in the Christian canon who are venerated for the destruction of former pre-Christian heritage, such as Saint Boniface and Junipero Serra. It should be noted, however, that the Christians didn’t always destroy the artefacts of the former culture. During the Renaissance, for example, artists in Christian Europe appropriated the literature and heritage of the pre-Christian classical world, often remaking them as symbols of Christian doctrine. However, those artists also faced pressure from the Church for supposedly promoting idolatry, heresy and lust, forcing the artists to justify their works within the framework of Christian dogma.

Finally, how about tolerance? Again, the Christian powers weren’t very good at that, what with destroying belief systems they found heretical. The Christian powers also frequently persecuted the Jews both racially and religiously, often expelled from the kingdoms they inhabited, and in Spain they were forced to choose between baptism and slavery.

A 17th century depiction of some youths throwing stones at a Jewish man during Lent

The argument that Christianity is the basis of Western culture can easily be disputed. Although Christianity is clearly an offshoot of Judaism and is thus based on Judaism, Western Christianity also layered aspects of Hellenic philosophy on top of it, reshaping them in its own image. The Logos is a title attributed to Jesus Christ within Christian contexts, and is generally used to refer to the word of God. The Logos also appears before Christianity in the writings of the Greek philosopher Heraclitus, for whom Logos was the everlasting Word in which all things become united, and the ordering principle of the cosmos. The Logos was also held by the Stoics to be the animating principle pervading the cosmos, a portion of which is possessed by each individual, thus it is comparable to the Christian concept of the immortal divine soul. The Jews, by contrast, rejected the doctrine of the immortal soul, though in Jesus’ time some Jewish sects such as the Pharisees adopted the soul doctrine. Plato’s philosophy contained many ideas that would be characteristic of Christian philosophy. For instance, Plato considered there to be a division between matter and the soul, he believed in the existence of a divine, intelligent craftsman that he referred to as the Demiurge, he believed that the resultant creation comprised an imperfect but orderly cosmos, considered mortal existence to be a passing phase in the wider cosmic existence, and he believed that by sublimating irrational desires the individual can seek perfect purity and order.

Aristotle’s conception of the nameless Prime Mover can be seen as similar to the Christian conception of God in some respects, an eternal source of motion and cosmic order without defect (his rationale being that eternal things are always good and cannot possess defects), a being that never changes, has no beginning or end, and is an immaterial being whose activities are purely spiritual and intellectual. However, unlike the Christian God, this Prime Mover has no plan for anything that exists in his creation. The doctrine of the Holy Trinity was can be said to derive from Stoic philosophy to some degree through Seneca’s conception of a threefold divine power which “we sometimes call the All-ruling God, sometimes the incorporeal Wisdom, sometimes the holy Spirit, sometimes Destiny”. The concepts of Heaven and Hell have their Greek equivalents as well – the Elysian Fields was the realm were heroes, the righteous, and mortals related to or chosen by the gods would dwell in a blissful and happy afterlife with the gods, while Tartarus is the underworld where the rest go when they do, with all of the truly wicked and evil souls residing in the fiery pit of Tartarus. In general the concept of a transmission of a soul to an otherworldly plane after the death of the body occurs not just in Greek mythology, but several pre-Christian pagan traditions, as well as the monotheisitc religion of Zoroastrianism, whereas in Judaism there was no immortal soul and Sheol was the realm where all of the dead go regardless of moral conduct in an existence severed from life and from God.

Then there’s the little things. Many Christian Saints likely evolved from past pagan deities and figures, and others became the demons recorded within Christian demonology. The Saints also, in a sense, took on the function of the old tutelary deities, serving as the patrons of nations, cities, territories, activities, families, and other things, and they could also be prayed to for various favours, which may explain why many American Protestants and Evangelicals consider Catholicism to a pagan religion rather than a form of Christianity. The depiction of angels as winged humans isn’t entirely Biblical (Jewish tradition has all sorts of monstrous and chimeric visages for its angels), drawing instead from the Greek depictions of beings like Eros or Nike and Roman beings like Victoria. You can see this in the angelic statue of Eros in Piccadilly Circus in London, depicted as a winged angel with a bow in the fashion of a mature version of the Roman Cupid, which was conveniently renamed The Angel of Christian Charity, or how in the Roman Senate all statues of Victoria were removed from the Senate to suit Christian sensibilities, except for one statue which possessed wings. Among the differing views on daemons in Greece, Plato’s view of them as spirits that watch each individual to whom they are allotted probably influenced the concept of a guardian angel that sometimes appears in Christian circles. In general, both the angels and the demons come from the concept of daemons. And of course, many holidays we celebrate have their basis in older pagan festivals. Christmas has its roots in Saturnalia and various Germanic festivals, and St Valentine’s Day has its links to the Roman festival of Lupercalia. Even Western marriage is said to come from the early Christian embrace of Roman weddings.

Eros as “The Angel of Christian Charity” in London

Much of Christianity as we know it derived its culture and philosophy from Greek and Roman philosophy and pagan religion, which it used to form a doctrine palatable to gentiles and generate a non-Jewish superstructure for a religion that was still ultimately Judaic at its base. Therefore, it doesn’t to sense to say that all of Western heritage comes from Christianity, when in reality the bedrock of such heritage was established before Christianity, mostly by Greek and Roman Hellenism. All the while, Christian power sometimes actively worked against the heritage it utilized to construct itself by destroying artifacts of Greek and Roman paganism and rejecting the principles of republican democratic governance they gave to the West.

However, to say that Western culture is Pagan culture would be anachronistic in the current context. Although the base of our cultural heritage is pre-Christian rather than Christian, things have evolved rather dramatically over the last few thousand years for European civilization, and now secularism makes up the current form of our culture, having shaped that which has come before and moved it away from strictly religious purpose. Rather than Western culture being Christian or Pagan in character, Western culture, like all others, exists as a dialectical, evolutionary continuum, wherein the form of what is considered culture and civilization modifies itself over time, sometimes gradually and sometimes radically, giving rise to new forms in a cycle of perpetual re-creation. The same condition goes for all of human history, a continuum upon itself, a continuum of our continual evolution and struggle for emancipation. It is ultimately this reason combined with the absence of anything resembling modern Western values in the Bible that I reject the argument for the Cultural Christian position, for it is arbitary to try and pigeonhole Western culture as Christian culture.

Of course there is the argument further still that Christianity was a beneficial force to the development of European civilization, and was instrumental in defending the continent from the march of Islam, especially during the Crusades. The reality, however, is quite different. The Teutonic Knights (a.k.a. The Order of Brothers of the German House of Saint Mary in Jerusalem) often slaughtered their fellow Christians in Poland and raided the territories of Lithuania, forcing Poland and Lithuania wage war against them in the First Battle of Tannenburg. The Teutonic Knights also engaged in conquests of Orthodox Russia backed by the Catholic Church. In 1204, the Crusader armies sacked the Christian city of Constantinople, killing thousands of civilians, raping women, even nuns, pillaging churches and monasteries and smashing altars to their own God. As a result of such sacking, the Byzantine Empire was left weakened and unable to defend itself from the advance of neighboring Islamic forces, such as the Ottomans and the Sultanate of Rum. And of course, the Crusaders were known for massacring fellow Christians who followed a different sect, as happened to the Cathars during the Albigensian Crusade. Far from uniting Europeans under the Christianity, Christian power was simply the glue for a civilization that constantly went to war with itself under the auspices of the Catholic Church, with, ironically, the lives of fellow Christians crushed underfoot. And that’s not even counting the times they massacred pagan Europeans, such as in Verden.

Also, despite modern propaganda concerning how Europe’s Christian ancestors drove out Islam wherever it reared its ugly head, Christian powers in Europe actively collaborated with the Islamic Ottoman Empire during the 16th and 17th centuries, including England, France and Transylvania. Martin Luther was even somewhat sympathetic to Islam on the grounds that Islam rejected the veneration of images and opposed the Catholic Church. Islam was even tolerated by the Dutch at the tail-end of the 17th century, with Muslims being hosted in Dutch trading ports. So much for Deus Vult.

A depiction of the Sacking of Constantinople in 1204

So not only is it utterly arbitrary to attach Christianity and Christian power as the basis of Western civilization, and not only was Christian power ultimately the source of a lot of violent national and ethnic conflicts in Europe that resulted in thousands of deaths, but Christian power isn’t even the strong bulwark against Islam that traditionalist ideologues claim it to be, given that the Crusaders allowed for Islamic powers to make ingress into Europe and the Protestants were happy to ally with Islamic powers to the East in opposition to the Catholic Church. Christian power truly was a cannibalistic, self-destructive, self-betraying force in its day, on top of being tyrannical, regressive and intolerant. A force of barbarity to behold.

Finally, the Cultural Christian position often entails an attempt to justify conservative politics using religious scripture. But if you’ve ever taken even a cursory look at the Bible, you’ll soon become aware that the Bible is not a consistent political manifesto, and there are several different verses that can be used to justify any position across the political spectrum, even in cases where it doesn’t mean what the people invoking it says it means. In this context, Cultural Christianity for the most part becomes simply the secular version of the longstanding right-wing Christian trope of using an internally inconsistent and contradictory tome to justify their overarching politics.

In summary, the Cultural Christian position is a vanity. It neglects the reality that Christianity as we know it is largely a product of Hellenic ideas and philosophy mingling with apocalyptic Jewish faith, and the reality that history, culture and civilization are continuums compounding upon themselves to start with. It neglects the barbarous reality of Christian power. Its assumptions about the relation between Christianity and Western values are not actually supported by history or even the Bible, and are the work of pure propaganda and pure ideology. It exists solely as the result of a contradiction of having a conservative mindset towards religion and culture within a Western Christian context but being unable to believe in God or the supernatural claims of Christianity. It, frankly, serves to appeal to the feelings of not just Christians (many of whom reject Cultural Christianity anyway because it’s not really belief in God and Jesus) but also the atheists who hold this position because, for some reason, they feel that Christianity equals The West (which, by the way, also dovetails nicely with dumb right-wing political thought concerning the “clash of civilizations”). If someone tells you that he/she is a Cultural Christian, feel free to laugh at such a person. They deserve it.

Haram Month 2017 #4 – The foreign policy canard

Whenever we have to discuss the threat of Islamic terrorism, there is always a rather pernicious canard thrown around. The idea that Islamic terrorism is driven predominantly by American or Western imperialism, most of the time referring to America. While I’m sure America’s antics in the Middle East has indeed caused some resentment among ordinary Muslims towards the American state, one wonders why it seems like Islamic terrorists love to target Europe? Do they think that by attacking Europe they will cause America to back down, when at this point they would probably be more likely to shut their borders? What’s more, if they are solely motivated by hatred of the American state because of alleged imperialism, why do they go and kill ordinary European citizens, rather than target American government officials, embassies or military bases?

And while we in Britain were still reeling from the brutal terrorist attack that occurred in Manchester, England, radical Islamist military forces were busy trying to take over a city in the Phillipines. Yes, an Islamic militia known as Maute (aka the Islamic State of Lanao) attacked the city of Marawi, and became locked in battle with Filipino forces. The entire time I wondered, baffled, what did the Philippines do to deserve this? Where are they involved in the foreign policy canard? Was the Philippines involved in any military interventions or excursions in the Middle East? Whenever I asked, no one could give an answer. Perhaps that is because they can’t. There is no intervention that I’m aware of. Clearly, whatever reason the Islamists had to try and take over Marawi had nothing to do with it.

Haram Month 2017 #2 – Sikhism and Islam

For some reason, there is tendency among some people to confused Muslims for Sikhs. In fact there was one incident around the time of the Manchester attack when Cosmpolitan saw a Sikh man offering free taxi rides to people in Manchester who may have been in need or danger and falsely identified him as a Muslim man, presumably in an opportunistic attempt to point Muslims in a positive or humanitarian light. So I think it’s worth having a look at Sikhism, and the relationship between Sikhism and Islam.

Sikhism is an Indian religion which believes in one God, a formless and genderless God at that, which they believe to be found in all things and all beings and cannot be incarnated in a concrete form. Many Sikhs profess their religion to about honesty, charity, sharing with others, getting close to God and controlling the “weakness” of the human personality through meditating on God, and the premise that all humans are equal before God. Like Hindus, Sikhs believe in reincarnation and karma, but unlike Hindus they reject the implementation of the caste system and the premise of needing to lead a particularly monastic or ascetic lifestyle in order to attain closeness to God, instead believing that meditation and good works within worldly life can achieve that closeness, and there is no dietary restriction involving meat. The religion seems to have been founded in the 15th century by a man named Guru Nanak, who expounded what would come to be known as the teachings of Sikhism during his lifetime. According to Sikh lore, he was the first of ten Gurus who contributed to the development of Sikh teachings. Although the Gurus are seen as important to their teachings, they are not seen as godlike, and since Sikhism rejects idolatry believers insist that the Gurus should not be worshiped in the same way that God is worshiped.

Muslims, naturally, consider Sikhism to be a false doctrine, and sometimes they perceive Sikhs as having a hatred of Islam. Relations between Sikhs and Muslims have not always been peaceful, not least because of the obvious doctrinal differences between Sikhism and Islam. Sikhs don’t worship the human proponents of their religion, where Islam worships Muhammad along Allah as his prophet. Islam has an entire legal and political code built around the teachings of Sharia, where Sikhism does not.  Not to mention, there has been some historical violent conflict between Muslims and Sikhs. During the partition of what was formerly British India, Sikhs and Muslims attacked and killed one another in Punjab, which some believe may have been instigated by Muslims.

In Britain, Sikhs are often seen as a model of integration of foreign cultures into British society. British Sikhs fought alongside their countrymen in the British Army in defense of their country, and have generally been respected by their fellow Brits ever since, though some feel they are overlooked in the political discussion of the merits of multiculturalism vs assimilation. At any rate, Sikhs certainly don’t seem to have much of the problems associated with the Islamic community. It’s a shame that people get the two confused.

Haram Month 2017 #1 – Bid’ah

Over the course of this year, there is a part of me that is becoming somewhat convinced that Islam is not something that can be reformed in the way that people like Maajid Nawaz hope it can be. One of the reasons for this is something called Bid’ah.

Bid’ah, in Islamic tradition, is a term that is used to refer to doctrinal innovations that fall outside of the sphere of Islamic doctrine as espoused in the Quran and the Hadiths (or Sunnah).

There is a Hadith wherein the prophet Muhammad is reported to have explicitly condemned all innovations as leading people to damnation.

Jabir ibn Abdullah reported: The Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings be upon him, would praise Allah in his sermon as He deserves to be praised and then he would say, “Whoever Allah guides, no one can lead him astray. Whoever Allah sends astray, no one can guide him. The truest word is the Book of Allah and the best guidance is the guidance of Muhammad. The most evil matters are those that are newly invented, for every newly invented matter is an innovation and every innovation is misguidance and every misguidance is in the Hellfire.” Then the Prophet would hold up his two fingers and say, “The Hour and I have been sent as close together as these two.” Whenever the Prophet mentioned the Hour, his cheeks would turn red and he would raise his voice and become very upset, as if he were warning us of an approaching army, saying, “It is coming in the morning or the evening!” Then the Prophet would say, “Whoever leaves behind his wealth, it is for his family. Whoever leaves behind a debt or his dependents, then they are my responsibility. I am the first to take care of the believers.” – Sunan An-Nasa’i 1578

From what I understand, the concept of Bid’ah is actually a subject of debate within the Islamic world. Bid’ah often falls into a set of classifications based on “good” and “bad”. “Good” Bid’ah refers to innovations that don’t explicitly contradict the teachings of the Quran and the Hadiths or Sharia law, while “bad” Bid’ah refers to such innovations that do contradict those teachings and are deemed to be against it. Some Muslims view these categories as necessary, arguing that the teachings of Islam will only survive if they can adapt to change, which is an amicable sentiment to hold.

The problem with the idea of approved innovations to Islamic doctrine, however, is that there is a verse in the Quran wherein the perfection of Islam (from the viewpoint of the Quran) is rather clearly explicated.

This day I have perfected for you your religion and completed My favor upon you and have approved for you Islam as religion.” – Quran 5:3

And remember that in Islam, the Quran and the Hadiths are the final word of God.

To me it is likely because the mentality of the finality of the teachings of Islam, and the classification reserved for ideas outside of Islam that might lead to its reform or renewal, will not pose much other than an obstacle to the reform so desired liberal/secular Muslims. Indeed, given the barbarity and absurdity of the Islamic religion, it is far better to simply abandon the religion entirely in favor of either a different religion or atheism/secularism.

Haram Month #16 – The golden age of Islam?

I find it hard to believe there was ever a time when Islam made a civilization great. If anything, the history of the 20th century suggests to me that it made countries in the Middle East worse. Iran, for instance, went from a secular pro-Western nation to an Islamic theocracy during the late 1970’s, and we all know what Iran is like nowadays. Yet there are those who believe that, at one point in time, there was an Islamic “golden age”, where science, knowledge and social progress flourish while Christian Europe languished in the dark ages.

It’s funny to think how people can claim that all that makes the modern world was predated by Islamic (they actually mean Arab) civilization, while the Islamic faith and its teachings (contained in the Quran and the Hadiths) are by and large at odds with and diametrically opposed to these things. Science is seen as subservient to the teachings of Islam, because it is seen as the work of Man, and any scientific findings that contradict this are seen as blasphemous. That at least is the case in the Middle East, where one might find clerics who deny that the Earth revolves around the Sun. The idea that a woman is equal to a man is contrary to Sharia law, which considers the testimony of a woman to worth half that of a man – which also means that the Western concept of human rights finds no support in the teachings of Islam. And where would the progressive narrative be without tolerance? Well let’s just say the Jews didn’t exactly feel any of that tolerance. You can also forget the idea that Islamic civilization was somehow better than “Western colonialism and imperialism” considering that Muhammad, the man from whom the teachings of Islam are ultimately derived, established Islam through the conquest of pagan Mecca.

Oh and let’s not forget the Arab slave trade, which had gone on for centuries and very often targeted Africans, and the fact that slavery was permitted by the Quran and the Hadiths.

Allah presents an example: a slave [who is] owned and unable to do a thing and he to whom We have provided from Us good provision, so he spends from it secretly and publicly. Can he be equal? Praise be to Allah! But most of them do not know.” Surah An-Nahl 16:75

And [also prohibited to you are all] married women except those your right hands possess. [This is] the decree of Allah upon you. And lawful to you are [all others] beyond these, [provided] that you seek them [in marriage] with [gifts from] your property, desiring chastity, not unlawful sexual intercourse. So for whatever you enjoy [of marriage] from them, give them their due compensation as an obligation. And there is no blame upon you for what you mutually agree to beyond the obligation. Indeed, Allah is ever Knowing and Wise.” – Quran An-Nisa 4:24

A man decided that a slave of his would be manumitted after his death and later on he was in need of money, so the Prophet took the slave and said, “Who will buy this slave from me?” Nu’aim bin ‘Abdullah bought him for such and such price and the Prophet gave him the slave.” – Bukhari Volume 3, Book

For one year I wanted to ask ‘Umar about the two women who helped each other against the Prophet but I was afraid of him. One day he dismounted his riding animal and went among the trees of Arak to answer the call of nature, and when he returned, I asked him and he said, “(They were) ‘Aisha and Hafsa.” Then he added, “We never used to give significance to ladies in the days of the Pre-lslamic period of ignorance, but when Islam came and Allah mentioned their rights, we used to give them their rights but did not allow them to interfere in our affairs. Once there was some dispute between me and my wife and she answered me back in a loud voice. I said to her, ‘Strange! You can retort in this way?’ She said, ‘Yes. Do you say this to me while your daughter troubles Allah’s Apostle?’ So I went to Hafsa and said to her, ‘I warn you not to disobey Allah and His Apostle.’ I first went to Hafsa and then to Um Salama and told her the same. She said to me, ‘O ‘Umar! It surprises me that you interfere in our affairs so much that you would poke your nose even into the affairs of Allah’s Apostle and his wives.’ So she rejected my advice. There was an Ansari man; whenever he was absent from Allah’s Apostle and I was present there, I used to convey to him what had happened (on that day), and when I was absent and he was present there, he used to convey to me what had happened as regards news from Allah’s Apostle . During that time all the rulers of the nearby lands had surrendered to Allah’s Apostle except the king of Ghassan in Sham, and we were afraid that he might attack us. All of a sudden the Ansari came and said, ‘A great event has happened!’ I asked him, ‘What is it? Has the Ghassani (king) come?’ He said, ‘Greater than that! Allah’s Apostle has divorced his wives! I went to them and found all of them weeping in their dwellings, and the Prophet had ascended to an upper room of his. At the door of the room there was a slave to whom I went and said, “Ask the permission for me to enter.” He admitted me and I entered to see the Prophet lying on a mat that had left its imprint on his side. Under his head there was a leather pillow stuffed with palm fires. Behold! There were some hides hanging there and some grass for tanning. Then I mentioned what I had said to Hafsa and Um Salama and what reply Um Salama had given me. Allah’s Apostle smiled and stayed there for twenty nine days and then came down.” – Bukhari 7, Book 72 Number 734

So yes, I find the idea that Islam brought about some kind of golden age of civilization hard to believe.

And with that, this year’s Haram Month is concluded. There will probably be another Haram Month on this blog, assuming our society continues its dishonesty on the subject of Islam.

Haram Month #14 – Honor killings and Islam

Honor killing is a phenomenon that is widely known in the UK associated with Middle Eastern and South Asian communities. In fact, about 11,000 “honor-based” crimes were recorded by British police between 2010-2014. The issue was brought to the cultural fore early this year when the drama Murdered By My Father was released by BBC Three, of all channels, which tells the story of a young woman who is killed by her father for bringing shame upon her family by engaging in a secret relationship with a young man with whom she was not arranged to be married, which is also apparently based on a real-life account.

Last month a Pakistani celebrity named Qandeel Baloch was murdered by her brother, apparently for “dishonoring her family name”. She was apparently known for posting raunchy photos, videos and comments on social media and facing constant backlash from the highly socially conservative community in Pakistan. And how was her death treated by the people of Pakistan? With celebration, of course. Many people in Pakistan seemed to view her death as a righteous death, for she had supposedly dishonored her family with her raunchy celebrity persona.

So what does any of this have to do with Islam, you might wonder?

Generally it is believed that honor-based violence is prohibited by Islamic law. The following Quranic verse is usually cited:

And whoever kills a believer intentionally, his recompense is Hell to abide therein; and the Wrath and the Curse of Allah are upon him, and a great punishment is prepared for him” – Surah  An-Nis 4:93

However, there is also parable found in the Quran concerning Moses (or Musa as he is known to Muslims), who is regarded as one of the most important and prominent prophets besides Muhammad himself, and a man named Khidr (or al-Khidr), who is described as a servant of Allah.

Then they found one of Our slaves, unto whom We had bestowed mercy from Us, and whom We had taught knowledge from Us.

Musa (Moses) said to him (Khidr) ‘May I follow you so that you teach me something of that knowledge (guidance and true path) which you have been taught (by Allah)?’

He (Khidr) said: “Verily! You will not be able to have patience with me!

And how can you have patience about a thing which you know not?”

Musa (Moses) said: ‘If Allah will, you will find me patient, and I will not disobey you in aught.’

He (Khidr) said: ‘Then, if you follow me, ask me not about anything till I myself mention it to you.’

So they both proceeded, till, when they embarked the ship, he (Khidr) scuttled it. Musa (Moses) said: ‘Have you scuttled it in order to drown its people? Verily, you have committed a thing ‘Imra’ (a Munkar – evil, bad, dreadful thing).’

He (Khidr) said: “Did I not tell you, that you would not be able to have patience with me?”

Musa (Moses) said: “Call me not to account for what I forgot, and be not hard upon me for my affair (with you).”

Then they both proceeded, till they met a boy, he (Khidr) killed him. Musa (Moses) said: ‘Have you killed an innocent person who had killed none? Verily, you have committed a thing “Nukra” (a great Munkar – prohibited, evil, dreadful thing)!’

(Khidr) said: ‘Did I not tell you that you can have no patience with me?’

Musa (Moses) said: ‘If I ask you anything after this, keep me not in your company, you have received an excuse from me.’

Then they both proceeded, till, when they came to the people of a town, they asked them for food, but they refused to entertain them. Then they found therein a wall about to collapse and he (Khidr) set it up straight. [Musa (Moses)] said: If you had wished, surely, you could have taken wages for it!”

(Khidr) said: “This is the parting between me and you, I will tell you the interpretation of (those) things over which you were unable to hold patience.

As for the ship, it belonged to Masakin (poor people) working in the sea. So I wished to make a defective damage in it, as there was a king after them who seized every ship by force.

And as for the boy, his parents were believers, and we feared lest he should oppress them by rebellion and disbelief.

So we intended that their Lord should change him for them for one better in righteousness and near to mercy.” – Surah Al-Kahf 18:65-81

In the parable, Khidr explains to Moses that he kills a child because he was rebellious and transgressive, or feared to be rebellious and transgressive. While this verse is by no means an explicit commandment telling Muslims to kill people who bring shame upon their families, I think parables like this can be used to justify similar actions. Let’s remember: this the word of Allah we’re talking about, or rather a servant of his. It’s like how in Islamic countries, child marriage is justified on the grounds that Muhammad, whose example Muslims are expected to follow, married a 6-year old girl and consummated the marriage when she was 9-years old.

There are also Hadiths where vigilantism against sinners is condoned or even commanded:

Whenever I tell you a narration from Allah’s Apostle, by Allah, I would rather fall down from the sky than ascribe a false statement to him, but if I tell you something between me and you (not a Hadith) then it was indeed a trick (i.e., I may say things just to cheat my enemy). No doubt I heard Allah’s Apostle saying, “During the last days there will appear some young foolish people who will say the best words but their faith will not go beyond their throats (i.e. they will have no faith) and will go out from (leave) their religion as an arrow goes out of the game. So, where-ever you find them, kill them, for who-ever kills them shall have reward on the Day of Resurrection.” – Bukhari Volume 9 Book 84 Number 64

A blind man had a slave-mother who used to abuse the Prophet (peace_be_upon_him) and disparage him. He forbade her but she did not stop. He rebuked her but she did not give up her habit. One night she began to slander the Prophet (peace_be_upon_him) and abuse him. So he took a dagger, placed it on her belly, pressed it, and killed her. A child who came between her legs was smeared with the blood that was there. When the morning came, the Prophet (peace_be_upon_him) was informed about it. He assembled the people and said: I adjure by Allah the man who has done this action and I adjure him by my right to him that he should stand up. Jumping over the necks of the people and trembling the man stood up. He sat before the Prophet (peace_be_upon_him) and said: Apostle of Allah! I am her master; she used to abuse you and disparage you. I forbade her, but she did not stop, and I rebuked her, but she did not abandon her habit. I have two sons like pearls from her, and she was my companion. Last night she began to abuse and disparage you. So I took a dagger, put it on her belly and pressed it till I killed her. Thereupon the Prophet (peace_be_upon_him) said: Oh be witness, no retaliation is payable for her blood.” – Abu Dawud, Book 36 Number 4348

A Jewess used to abuse the Prophet (peace_be_upon_him) and disparage him. A man strangled her till she died. The Apostle of Allah (peace_be_upon_him) declared that no recompense was payable for her blood” – Abu Dawud, Book 36 Number 4349

There is also a Hadith where “legal” punishment carried out against relatives is deemed permissible.

It was narrated from `Ubadah bin Samit that the Messenger of Allah said: Carry out the legal punishments on relatives and strangers, and do not let the fear of blame stop you from carrying out the command of Allah (SWT)” – Ibn Majah 3:20:2540

Not to mention, there’s a Hadith condemning women who arrange their own marriages as adulteresses – adultery, by the way, is traditionally punished in the Islamic world by stoning if you’re a woman – and thus a woman arranging her own marriage is forbidden.

It was narrated from Abu Hurairah that: the Messenger of Allah said: No woman should arrange the marriage of another woman, and no woman should arrange her own marriage. The adulteress is the one who arranges her own marriage.” – Ibn Maja 3:9:1882

It is naive to assume that honor-based violence isn’t derived from the teachings of Islam, when in fact such a thing is approved by the Hadiths, which would also mean they are approved by Sharia law -itself based on the Hadiths as well as the word of the Quran.

It’s also worth noting that Jordan, Syria and Palestine have relaxed laws on honor-based violence, and Pakistan is only recently introducing a law fully banning honor killing in light of Qandeel Baloch’s murder. And is it any coincidence that 91% percent of honor killings worldwide have been recorded as being committed by Muslims?

I doubt that honor killing is a phenomenon exclusively associated with Islam, as I am aware that honor-based killings have also been committed by Hindus in India – not to mention the Khap Panchayats dispensing their own brand of “justice”. However, I am convinced that, in the Muslim world, honor-based violence is something that can be justified based on the Hadiths, which means that Islam might make up a signification portion of the “cultural reasons” one might attribute as the cause of honor killings. At any rate, it is inescapable that honor killing in the Muslim world is in some way tied to Islam.

Haram Month #12 – Denying reality

Don’t you just love it when delusional ideologues defend Sharia law as progressive and vilifying their critics? Over the last weekend Sally Kohn from CNN spent a lot of time defending Islam and sharia law from criticism. Much hay has been made over such claims as “All practicing Muslims believe in sharia. It doesn’t mean what you’ve been told.” and “there are gay feminist Muslims who believe in Sharia!”. She has also been accused of equating Sharia law (an aspect of Islam) with Islam as a whole, when talking about gay Muslims celebrating Pride Month. The irony that seems to be lost on her is that as someone who is both lesbian and Jewish she would be heavily victimized by the implementation of Sharia law. If she actually lived in many of those countries, she’d probably be either locked or killed for her homosexuality, or probably killed for being a non-believer. Apart from that, I’m a tad worried what just the average person in these Islamic countries might think to do to her simply upon the revelation that she is Jewish. Her ignorance on the subject of Islam and Sharia law has been so widely skewered on Twitter that there is actually a petition on Change calling for her to spend in a week country where Sharia is the law of the land, without bodyguards of course, in order to prove that Sharia really is as progressive, or compatible with progressivism, as she thinks.

Also making hay on Twitter was rapper Talib Kweli Greene who actually believes that the only way to criticize Islam without bigotry is to become a Muslim, which is essentially the same thing as saying that fascism can only be criticized objectively by Mussolini. He has gone so far as to call Sam Harris a white supremacist, and labels his supporters as bigots. He even refers to Maajid Nawaz as a white supremacist apologist, and he even implicitly refers to him as a “coon” – a racial slur that seems to have been adopted by African-Americans to refer to black people who they want to denounce as race traitors on the basis of political disagreement.

Both of them are public figures who got into arguments with a lot of people who took the piss out of their public displays of ignorance, and both are very vocal apologists. Meanwhile, in the Middle East, gays no doubt still get executed for being gay, women are still treated as worth less than a man to the point that rape victims are punished (as is the case in Qatar) and they can’t do anything without the approval of a man (as is the case in Saudi Arabia)  and Iran this year graduating college students were flogged for dancing in jubilation. Sharia is the law of the land across the Middle East, and it produces brutally oppressive theocracies, and it is not hard for anyone to find this out. And in the UK, not only are there parallel legal courts that enforce sharia law, but there are even “sharia patrols”. These patrols consist of gangs of Muslim men who go out and enforce Islamic law on innocent bystanders. They harass people for things like drinking alcohol, wearing too little clothing (which, let’s be honest, means anything that doesn’t cover your entire body) and being gay. They go out of their way to cover up advertisements for clothes stores like H&M with black paint because they deem it sinful. All to enforce the will of Allah and Islamic morality. And the UK isn’t alone. There are reports of Sharia patrols and their activities in Germany, Austria, and Denmark.

And the icing on the cake? It is still taboo to criticize Islam or Sharia law! I’m not joking. Anything that is anti-Islamic – not anti-Muslim, not racism directed at Arabs, just anti-Islamic, the religion/ideology! – is deemed as abuse, as part of the wretched cult that is the myth of Islamophobia. Criticism of Islam and sharia law is considered abusive and venturing into racism and bigotry, and make no mistake, that “abuse” is being tracked. And I don’t have a doubt in my mind that the government is going to get increasingly authoritarian in order to combat what it, or the duped people, think is “a rise in Islamophobia”. And given the way the police have started treating people who criticize them over the Internet, it is going to get ugly.

This is the reality that delusional ideologues like Sally Kohn and Talib Kweli Greene, well, frankly have the luxury of denying. That the political class frankly has the luxury of denying.

Haram Month #11 – Islam and Buddhism are NOT alike

This post is a response to an article that was posted yesterday on the news site Independent Australia. The article was written by a Year 12 student named Jessica Robinson, who is claiming that Islam and Buddhism are more alike than most people think. But before we begin, let’s address the image used at the top because, in my mind, the textual content within just lays out the kind of post we’re dealing with.

So right off the bat, the image chosen as the header image is nonsense. “Buddha was not a Buddhist”. So? “Jesus was not a Christian”. Yeah, he was Jewish. “Muhammad was not a Muslim”. So? And it’s really rich that the claim is that they all taught “love”. How did Muhammad teach love? By conquering Mecca and ordering killings and the desecration of the religion that was previously practiced, and towards his death he said “let there not be two religions in Arabia”. If you think this teaches love, then I must say you are fucking foul. Gautama never did this. Jesus never did this. Muhammad did. And the premise of that statement is that they’re all the same because they taught “love”. What the fuck is love to these people?

Anyways, let’s get on with the actual written content of the post.

Since the dawn of mankind, humans have attempted to answer the most complex and perplexing questions of the universe through religious beliefs. Questions such as why are we here? How did we come to be?

Religions worldwide set out a set of moral and ethical guidelines on how one should live and interact with the world. This leads to a vast number of teachings on peace and conflict, how to behave when at war and how to avoid it all together.

In today’s world, Islam is seen as one of the most violent and war-like religions. However, this is not the case. Many of their ancient scriptures and teachings from the Quran and from their prophet Muhammad talk of avoiding violence at all costs.

Do you know that there’s an entire Wikipedia page for Muhammad’s military career? Yes, the prophet who supposedly talks of avoiding violence at all costs had a military career. And it’s said that about 1,000 people have been killed in the battles fought by Muhammad. That is really, really bad for you if you claim to be all about peace. He and his forces killed people for not recognizing his religion and even slaughtered Jewish tribes living in Medina. That alone should be enough to convince you that Muhammad was not a pacifist in any stretch. In addition to this, Islam as a religion simply inspires more violence than any others. Put into perspective, the Inquistions carried out by the Catholic Church killed up to 3,000 people over the course of 350 years, while Islamic terrorists killed 5,000 people in the month of November 2014 alone. Just look at how many Islamist terror attacks carried out last year alone. In fact, there are verses in the Quran which instruct or endorse violence against non-believers.

Fight them until there is no [more] fitnah and [until] worship is [acknowledged to be] for Allah. But if they cease, then there is to be no aggression except against the oppressors.” – Surah Al-Baqarah 2:193

And when the sacred months have passed, then kill the polytheists wherever you find them and capture them and besiege them and sit in wait for them at every place of ambush. But if they should repent, establish prayer, and give zakah, let them [go] on their way. Indeed, Allah is Forgiving and Merciful.” – Surah At-Tawbah 9:5

O Prophet, fight against the disbelievers and the hypocrites and be harsh upon them. And their refuge is Hell, and wretched is the destination.” – Surah At-Tawbah 9:73

And as for those who disbelieved, I will punish them with a severe punishment in this world and the Hereafter, and they will have no helpers.” – Surah Ali ‘Imran 3:56

Fighting has been enjoined upon you while it is hateful to you. But perhaps you hate a thing and it is good for you; and perhaps you love a thing and it is bad for you. And Allah Knows, while you do not.” – Surah Al-Baqarah 2:216

Fight those who believe not in Allah nor the Last Day, nor hold that forbidden which hath been forbidden by Allah and His Messenger, nor acknowledge the religion of Truth, (even if they are) of the People of the Book (Jews and Christians), until they pay the Jizyah with willing submission, and feel themselves subdued.” – Surah At Tawbah 9:29

So already, my dear, this is a claim that loses its foundation once you look at the facts of the matter. It’s not looking good for you and we’ve only just begun.

On the other side of the coin, Buddhism is seen as one of the most peaceful religions in the world. By all accounts it is. The Buddha preached love and kindness and the ending of all suffering. However, due to political and religious turmoil, many Buddhists have turned to violence and hate. Buddhist monks are now persecuting Muslims in Burma.

Yes, non-violence is a central tenet in the Buddhist faith, unlike in Islam where both Allah and his prophet condone and in fact encourage violence. So why do Buddhist monks clash with Muslims in Burma? Honestly I’m not sure, but I think it might have something to do with an insurgency on the part of the Rohingya Muslim community in Burma that has apparently been going on since 1947. The monks might also be doing this for political reasons, given that the Rohingya are viewed as illegal immigrants. Whatever the reason is, I doubt that this is done specifically to disseminate the teachings of Buddhism. But to be honest, I think comparing Islam – a religion that was founded in violent conquest, has verses instructing or condoning violence and continues to inspire scores of violence – to Buddhism based on what some monks are doing in Burma seems ineffectual.

With Buddhism, there is an emphasis on peace and peaceful living but this comes from a focus on suffering and the ending of all suffering. The Four Nobel Truths are the centre of Buddhism. These truths centre around suffering, the cause of suffering, the end of suffering and how one can end suffering. Within Buddhism, there is a large focus on inner peace or “enlightenment”. Once one reaches enlightenment, you no longer suffer and your aim is to ease the suffering of others by aiding them in their path to enlightenment. The very basis of Buddhist teachings is one of peace.

If you wish to end suffering, the most obvious way to do that is to be peaceful.

Way to misspell the world noble. But anyways, the thing you have to remember is that Islam and Buddhism have different aims. In Islam, the goal is to get into heaven (or Jannah) by worshipping Allah and following his teachings and those of Muhammad, and of course to disseminate the teachings of Islam wherever people. The goals of Buddhism, as you’ve pointed out are slightly different and they don’t depend on the same means. Sure, spreading the teachings of Buddhism in order to bring about enlightenment is a part of those goals, but apart from that. Not to mention, as I will keep pointing out, one faith is inherently more militant or likely to inspire violence than the other.

To learn how Islam strives for peace, you must look to see when it was established and in what political and religious climate. The prophet Muhammad was born into an extremely violent tribal culture. In his thirties, Muhammad experienced “divine revelations” from God which led to the writing of the Quran. In these teachings, Muhammad said that God, or Allah, wished for peace for his people. These teachings also preached patience and kindness. These teachings were alien to pre-Islamic Arabia.

If Allah and Muhammad both strive for peace, why did Muhammad conquer Mecca through military force and desecrate, I repeat, desecrate the artefacts and temples of the former religion of Arabia. He sent generals to attack the shrines of pre-Islamic pagan deities and kill the people who tended to those shrines. One of his generals even killed a woman Muhammad assured him was one of the false goddesses. No one who strives for peace above all else would condone this or participate in this, even if you’re the type who espouses peace by superior arms. I don’t care how violent his culture was. If he really believed in peace and despised violence, he would be above that. But history, the Quran and the Hadiths show otherwise. Not to mention, why does the Quran tell believers to kill non-believers, keeping in mind that the Quran is considered the perfect, unchangeable word of Allah? This is still weak apologia.

Muhammad advocated a policy of non-violent resistance and like Buddhism, Islamic teachings, at their core, call for peace and patience. The Holy Quran 49:10 states ‘Humanity is but a single brotherhood; so make peace with your brethren.’ The word ‘Islam’ even comes from the world ‘Salam’ meaning ‘peace’.

The same lie about Muhammad’s advocacy of non-violent resistance is repeated here, and if we’re honest I think we know already that Islamic teachings don’t call for peace and patience, except with other believers (and even then, only the real believers – not “hypocrites”). Also, this is what 49:10 says:

The believers are but brothers, so make settlement between your brothers. And fear Allah that you may receive mercy.” – Surah Al-Hujurat 49:10

Key words: the believers. Not all of humanity. The rest are to be converted. Not to mention, in Islamic the world is divided into two categories: Dar al-Islam (the territory of Islam) and Dar al-Harb (the territory of strife, strife that is necessitated by a lack of belief in Allah). The word Islam does not strictly mean peace. It means “submission” or “surrender” as in surrender to the will of Allah. It comes from the word aslama which means “submit” or “surrender”.

Today, members and leaders of the Islamic faith actively condemn acts of violence. They speak out against injustices and work together with other Abrahamic faiths in interfaith dialogues to aid the spread of understanding and peace. Muslim communities in Australia are working with the federal and state governments to combat the radicalisation of Muslim youths.

Well they’re trying, but it’s mostly #NotAll so-and-so and “Islam dindu nuffin”. You hear very little addressing of the ideological prerogatives of Islam or Islamism compared to the apologia coming from both Muslims and non-Muslims alike, yourself included. And that’s in the West. In the Middle East, meanwhile…

And have you seen Arab Twitter’s response to the Orlando Pulse massacre?

Also, Australia’s government is more concerned about cracking down on “vilifying” religions than fighting terrorism.

Obviously, the glaring contradiction is terrorist organisations such as Islamic State and Boko Haram. However, these organisations do not work in the name of Allah, or in any way embody the teachings of Muhammad. These contradictions result from a misunderstanding and misinterpretation of Islamic text. With all religious text, one must continually re-interpret it as society evolves.

That’s an outright lie. Islamic State (or ISIL) are an Islamic organization, specifically they are Wahhabi Muslims, and the thing about Wahhabists is they believe in propagating the strictest, purest form of Islam possible. They commit violence against non-believers because it is written in the Quran. They implement Sharia law based on the Quran and the Hadiths. They kill other Muslims because they deem them to be hypocrites, who the Quran also commands violence against. They kill gay people because the Quran tells them to. Even slavery, including sexual slavery, is something that they justify using the Quran. If it is Allah’s will, then they follow it without question. It’s not a misunderstanding, only a strict interpretation and broad application of the teachings of the Quran, unmoderated and untempered by the values of the Enlightenment and the modern secular liberal values that spring from it. They are also Islamists which means they wish for society in general to structured around Islam. Boko Haram have the same ideology. All of this is religious motivated and tied to Islam. It’s worth noting that the leader of ISIL, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, has a PhD in Islamic Studies, which would suggest he is very educated on the subject.

In reality, the Quran is no more violent than the Christian bible, it just so happens that there are groups of people who insist on taking portions of the Quran out of context to fit their radical agenda.

The problem is that you have significantly more Muslims who strictly adhere to the Quran and more radical Islamists who kill people in the name of Allah than Christians doing the same thing in the name of Jesus, and the former is currently killing more people than the latter are. In fact, there have been 29,055 Islam-inspired attacks committed since 9/11, and that number is bound to rise further. Also Christianity is more tempered by modern secular values than Islam is, and we in the West are coddling the Islamic faith and preventing any kind of reform which might lead to Islam being as reformed and tempered as Christianity is now. This is what needs to be addressed.

In the modern world, Buddhism works with many people and religions in an effort towards peace. Organisations such as The Soka Gakkai International is a global movement of people who are connected through Buddhism. They attempt to bring a “revolution of peace” to the world. This organisation has roots leading back to the Cold War where they rallied against the use of nuclear arms. The then president of the organisation, Josei Toda, called for the complete prohibition of all nuclear weapons.

The Soka Gakkai organisation has always said that open dialogue among the various faiths and cultures is the key to peace. They published dialogues with the former soviet president Mikhail Gorbachev, Indonesian Muslim leader Abdurrahman Wahid, and Chinese writer Jin Yong.

It’s a shame the Islamic world isn’t doing much of that lately.

Also, how many Nichiren Buddhists commit religiously motivated murders? Just out of interest.

Like Islam, there is still the radical sect of Buddhism who insist on interpreting the sacred texts to suit their own agenda. This is never more obvious than with the persecution of Muslims in Burma at the hands of Buddhist monks. The origin of this violence is vague at best and there are disputing claims as to why and when these persecutions began. The persecution included boycotting Muslim business and attacking and killing Muslims.”

Ashin Wirathu is the monk who is seen as the leader of the anti-Islamic movement in Burma and he is a Theravada Buddhist. Is Theravada Buddhism the radical sect you’re talking about? If so, I’m not convinced because Theravada is very much a mainstream school of Buddhism. Otherwise, name those sects. His opposition to Islam appears to be less based on his own religious beliefs and more on a concern for the increasing influence of Islam and fears of violence from Islamic communities. In that sense, he is more like the Burmese Buddhist equivalent of Tommy Robinson to some extent. At any rate, I’m no expert but, from what I’ve read, it’s not like the Rohingya Muslims are entirely blameless, since they’ve attacked people and damaged property themselves. In addition to this, there is also a militant Rohingya Islamist movement called the Rohingya Solidarity Organization. Why don’t you look them up?

Some claim that the Buddhists of Burma became angry at the influx of Muslim migrants to the country. Others say that the Buddhist monks became angry at the accumulated wealth of the Muslims, effectively blaming them for the poverty of their own people. Whatever the origin, these events show that no religion is immune from violent extremism. But these episodes of violence should in no way over-shadow the good done by other Buddhists and Buddhist organisations.

What you’ve just said doesn’t simply prove that no religion is immune from violent extremism, although no one can deny that this is the case. You’ve just said that there are political reasons underlying the sectarian conflict. Although tied to religion, it’s not solely religiously motivated. Whereas in the case of Islamic terrorism, religion is either the sole motivation or the primary or dominant motivation. And again, Islamic violence is more rampant worldwide than Buddhist violence.

It is safe to say, that the goal for every religion is to reach a state of peace, whether it’s inner peace, or world peace. The radical sects of some religions do not speak for these religions as a whole, and the majority of adherents of these religions are appalled at the things done in the name of, say, Allah and Buddha.

The two main goals of every religion are to propagate themselves and to come up with answers to complex questions concerning the “meaning of life”. That’s it. You yourself pointed out the latter. The main difference is that Islam is still propagated by force and its teachings, if implemented as the basis of a society, create brutal totalitarian societies. One need only look at the Middle East to see that this is the case, and I don’t think they disavow the puristic adherents of Islam (except in the case of ISIL, and I really think they condemn them just to save face).

Also, a quarter of British Muslims sympathized with the Charlie Hebdo attackers. 20% of British Muslims sympathize with the 7/7 bombers while 1 in 4 say they were justified. 32% of Palestinians supported the slaughter of Jewish families. And 45% of British believe that anti-Western Islamic clerics are part of mainstream Islam. I know, not all Muslims believe this! But it’s a significant number, larger than I think it should be.

“Through the teachings of Muhammad, Muslims are instructed to be patient, to be kind to those of differing faiths.

I’m not going to repeat myself about Muhammad.

Buddhists have a similar view. They must not cause suffering and should shy away from violence. Much like Muhammad, they preach non-violent resistance.

Buddhists don’t have a similar view, mainly because Siddhartha Gautama never encouraged killing people of different faiths, including people who leave the faith! Also I really don’t think resistance, let alone non-violent, is that strong a theme in Buddhism compared to the theme of letting go of attachments and delusions (or rather what Buddhism views as attachments and delusions). And again, I’ve already established that Muhammad advocating non-violent resistance is a lie so I’m not repeating myself again.

Many people would be shocked to think of Islam and Buddhism being comparable in any way and yet if you look closely at their teachings, and their efforts towards peace, they are more similar than one may suspect.

Yeah! Yeah I imagine many people would be shocked! And I highly doubt that looking at the teachings and the texts would change people’s minds too much. This is a pointless exercise of the lie that all religions are the same, and all to shield Islam from much-needed criticism and reform. If Siddartha Gautama were to read the Quran, I think he would be aghast at what it condones or instructs.

This article has proven to be nothing more than a weak and dishonest piece of apologia, not to mention a pathetic exercise in comparative religion. I can only hope that the author’s ignorance is simply a mark of her naivety, but even then I am still concerned that people like her are the next generation. I am deeply worried about how blind the human species is becoming, and how our inability to look at the reality of the situation is only increasing with time. And sadly, people like her are part of the problem – not least because the apologia she offers us is printed by the media numerous times and propped as a voice of reason.

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Link to the original article: https://independentaustralia.net/life/life-display/islam-and-buddhism-are-more-alike-than-you-think,9377

Haram Month #6 – Yes, Islam is being shielded by the media and the establishment

This post is written mainly to show that those us of participating in Haram Month do not do so out of being led in a direction of hatred of Islam and Muslims by the media, rather that we are countering the narrative of the media and the political establishment.

The Independent actually released an article in recent weeks titled “It’s not Muslims or people with mental health problems who are most likely to kill you in a terrorist attack – it’s men“. Let that sink in. They want you to know that men as a whole need to be dealt with, rather than Islamic terrorists. They’ve also released quite a few articles that claim that Islam is actually compatible with British values and when the Brussels attacks occurred they released an article claiming that the attack was more Belgium’s fault than the fault of people who decided to kill in the name of Allah. The BBC has actually silenced someone in a radio conservation about Islam and Trump, have suggested removing the words “Islamist” and “terrorist” from their news outlets and they have reported a suicide bombing as “Syrian migrant dies in blast“. CNN actually thinks that radical Islam is caused by “broken politics and stagnant economics”, instead of a religious belief system that hasn’t been tempered by Enlightenment values in the same way Christianity and Judaism largely have or the fact that the people who follow them actually want to structure Western society around Islam. Al Jazeera, through their online channel AJ+, have constantly made Islamic terror attacks about literally everything but Islamic terror in order to shield Islam from criticism. They made the Orlando massacre all about guns, used gay Muslims to promote the progressive identity politics agenda and their sentiments as a hit piece on the GOP and eventually complained that after the massacre the media began talking a lot about ISIL (despite the fact that Omar Mateen literally pledged his allegiance to ISIL). They have even denied that radicalization as a phenomenon even exists! It’s worth noting that Al Jazeera is run by the royal family of Qatar and are partners with The Young Turks (yes, those Young Turks; and by partners I mean they basically do all the reporting for TYT who don’t actually report anything almost all of the time).

When the Nice attack happened, the media headlines seemed to suggest that they thought the truck had agency of its own since they kept describing the event as a truck killing people, only later talking about . When they did finally talk about the Nice attacker, they loved to point out how he considered a “shit”, as if that somehow altered the obvious religious motivation of his killing. When Khzir Khan and his wife slammed Donald Trump at the Democratic National Convention for having the audacity to speak of the threat of radical Islam, stressing that Islam-inspired terrorism has nothing to do with Islam, the media showered him with praise and his son’s death in 2004 became a cheap political device for the Democrats and their supporters to use against Trump. And when Cologne broke out, despite a conspiracy of silence by the authorities to hide the fact that the perpetrators were Muslim migrants from Syria, the media hesitated to show any outrage on the matter, and the commentariat basically declared that potential rising anti-migrant sentiment was the worst part of the Cologne attacks.

Not only is the media shielding Islam, but so is the Western political establishment. America’s president Barack Obama has repeatedly refused to identify Islamic terror attacks as Islamic terror attacks and has in the past attempted to downplay the significance of the role of Islam in terror attacks in today’s world by pointing to the Crusades and the Inquisition of medieval Europe – as though today’s Christians actually have to be held responsible for the crimes of their ancestors. Hillary Clinton, the Democrat nominee and likely president-elect, has made it clear that she believes that Islam is not the adversary of America, or Western civilization, in spite of a world of evidence that shows otherwise. Our own current Prime Minister, Theresa May, has denied any link between the ideology of Islam and the actions of ISIL and has even repeated the mantra of “Islam is a religion of peace”. And don’t forget the rest of Europe, as many of their politicians are evidently blind to the increasing influence of radical Islam, to the point that politicians in places like Germany are actually more afraid of right-wing chatrooms than radical Islam and the consequences of mass Muslim immigration. It should be little wonder that Angela Merkel favors censoring online discussion of mass immigration. The European Union wishes to continue its reckless open-borders policy, despite numerous crimes and an increase in terrorism committed by migrants from Islamic countries. And in Australia, the government has made it illegal to “vilify” any religion including Islam (read: especially Islam), specifically in order to combat an apparent rise in anti-Muslim sentiment.

Social media has done its part to shield Islam from criticism as well, with Facebook having received criticism for apparently censoring people and groups for criticizing Islam. For example, Pamela Geller had her page Stop the Islamization of America temporarily removed from Facebook, and has been blocked from posting for 30 days. Faisal Saeed Al Mutar, a secular humanist thinker, got banned from Facebook for posting critically about the Muslim Brotherhood. In the aftermath of the Nice attacks, Facebook has also removed posts from ordinary users that show they aren’t big fans of Islam or Muslims. Same with Twitter. Mark Kern, a video game designer from Blizzard Entertainment, was banned from Twitter in June for tweeting that radical mosques (not all mosques, just radical mosques) should not be excluded from NSA surveillance. On the same month, Milo Yiannpoulous was temporarily banned after making anti-Islamic tweets. In fact, Twitter has taken a lot of flak from its users about how ISIL accounts or ISIL-affiliated accounts do not get banned from Twitter, but those who speak out against Islam often do. Not to mention, Arab Twitter’s reaction to the Orlando massacre somehow isn’t considered “hate speech”, nor is what the Arab Twitterati have to say about atheists, but offending Muslims is. Also, if you’re a content creator on YouTube you’ll find that if you post a video critical of Islam, you are likely to have your videos de-monetized. Take Gryffix for instance – seemingly every time she releases a video about Islam lately, it gets demonetized. Same with Kraut and Tea, Veemonro, EdgyptianSphinx and others. YouTube is either demonetizing the videos themselves, or doing so in response to reports (possibly from offended Muslims). All of this clearly suggests to me that big social media platforms are trying to discourage online criticism of Islam and Islamic terrorism.

So you see, there is actually a considerable desire among the establishment to promote a narrative that Islam has nothing to do with terrorism and is not an ideology that inspires violence. If you think I and those who join me in Haram Month are simply being led in a direction to hate Muslims by the media, I don’t know what to tell you.

Haram Month #4 – Pope Francis: An apologist for Islamist violence

Seriously, fuck Pope Francis. Both for making me defend Catholicism and for being such an incorrigible, weak-minded, intellectually dishonest douche.

This is what the Pope had to say when asked by a reporter about the phenomenon of violence inspired by Islam:

I don’t like to speak of Islamic violence, because every day, when I browse the newspapers, I see violence, here in Italy… this one who has murdered his girlfriend, another who has murdered the mother-in-law… and these are baptized Catholics! There are violent Catholics! If I speak of Islamic violence, I must speak of Catholic violence…

Why? How many Catholics are suicide bombing places these days? How many Catholics want to execute gay people or push them off of buildings because they hate gay people? How many Catholic militias are there actively trying to take over a country by force, destroy its heritage and murder or abduct its citizens and sell them into slavery? How many Catholics post videos of them beheading non-believers and waging holy war on Western civilization, or any civilization for that matter? How many Catholics do you think are so fanatic that they view other Catholics as heretics to the point that they justify killing them on that basis? How many Catholics think that apostasy should be punished with death? How many Catholics think adultery should be punished by stoning? Are you really going to tell me that there is an equal amount of violence from Catholics in today’s world to the amount of violence from Muslims or Islamists? Because if you are, you are clearly lying. I’m not kidding – you can’t tell me with a straight face that Catholicism inspires just as much violence as Islam, knowing the actual facts of the matter.

He also thinks he knows what this terrorism is caused by:

Terrorism grows when there are no other options, and when the center of the global economy is the god of money and not the person — men and women — this is already the first terrorism! You have cast out the wonder of creation — man and woman — and you have put money in its place. This is a basic terrorism against all of humanity! Think about it!

Are you serious? The Pope is basically saying that Islamists want to kill non-believers and gays and they want the West to be structured around Islam and sharia law because of capitalism, because to him the very idea of an economy based on simply profit is tantamount to terrorism. There is no way you can be this stupid on purpose. That, or it’s just a standard line for the fucking Russell Brand of popes to take. Besides, it’s a lie. We know that pretty much all of these Islamists and jihadists are religious and ideologically motivated. They want the West to ordered around Islam. They want sharia law. They want to take over your civilization. This has been shown time and time again. This has nothing to do with capitalism, or even to do with Western foreign policy, simply because they would hate us no matter what primarily because we are non-believers. We know that for a fact, and to claim otherwise is both farcical and repugnant. Beyond that though, that is some nice victim blaming coming from the Pope. Imagine that, a jihadist shouts “Allahu Akbar” and kills some people and they butcher you, and they do so because you and your fellow citizens are non-believers, but it’s not their fault! Right!? What miserable apologia.

There is a part of me that actually feels sorry for the Catholics, particularly family members of mine who are Catholic, simply because they have such a weak man representing their faith.

Again, fuck the Pope.