Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Islam - a force for ill in the world

After researching Islam for six months and after reading the Qur'an and copious ahadith (sayings and actions of Mohammad), I told "Kevin" I had come to the reluctant conclusion that Islam was a force for ill in society. He answered my contention by asking me to consider two points which I answered in my next mail:

Firstly, you question my assertion that Islam is a force for ill in the world by asking me to consider the millions who have lost their lives in wars fought between non-Muslim nations. Whole peoples could have been wiped out by non-Muslims yet this would not weaken my argument by one jot. To argue that A is not bad, because B is really bad is surely as plain a logical fallacy as it’s possible to get.
You also suggest that to state that a creed is a force for ill in the world one needs to have something to compare it to. Why? I thought the Abrahamic religions were based upon absolutes? Am I wrong then in believing that relativism is anathema to Islam? 
Nonetheless, since you ask for a realistic comparator let me provide it. It’s the one you and your family enjoy living in: a democratic, free, tolerant and largely secular society. I’m not for one moment suggesting that it’s perfect. It’s a society where people get drunk and fornicate and watch drivel on TV...if they choose to.
A society that is too preoccupied with celebrity and football... but nobody will come knocking on your door if you choose not to partake. A society where you are bombarded with sex and it’s tricky bringing up kids not to think of promiscuity as a right or even an obligation ...but we’ve done it and so, I’m sure, will you. But it’s also a society where your children will be free to choose their own religion or choose not to have one at all. A society where they will have the absolute right to express their views, however critical of the government.  A society where they won’t be hounded or worse for their sexuality. A society where your daughter can achieve as much as your son because secular, liberal democracies evolve and are not forced to abide by a rigid doctrine established when slavery and rape of slave girls, the killing of gays and apostates, and the beheading of prisoners were deemed morally right instead of morally repugnant.
I remember your comment in a previous mail: “pluralism is not a goal in Islam”.  I found and still find that deeply shocking. The opposite of pluralism is totalitarianism. Many of those “tens of millions who died in wars between non-Muslim nations” you were keen to highlight, died so that we and our children might enjoy freedom from tyranny. You may choose to focus on the importance of family, charity, sobriety and a host of other worthy ideals which I deny not for a moment are inherent in your religion. But neither can you deny that, at its heart, Islam is a tyrannical creed which has as its stated aim the submission of the whole of humanity.
Finally you ask what message I would give to those poor unfortunates who seem to have nothing in this life, whether through poverty, ill health, family tragedy or whatever. This is a difficult question for an atheist to answer but it’s not one we should shy away from. I have no doubt that many people’s appalling situations are made bearable by a belief in the hereafter. Does this justify religion? I don’t know. It would certainly be arrogant in the extreme of me to suggest that such unfortunates should face up to what I believe is reality.  But if you allow the “solace in sorrow” argument you must also then accept the concomitant terror inspired in the breasts of millions of souls at the thought of the disgustingly graphic eternal torture promised to “sinners”.  Do you remember the chilling warning issued by Abu Hamza Al-Masri to Yvonne Ridley when she was on the point of converting to Islam?  'Don't be pressured or pushed, the whole community is there for you if you need any help, just call one of the sisters... But there is just one thing I want you to remember. Tomorrow, if you have an accident and die, you will go straight to hellfire'. And do you remember Yvonne’s response? "I was so scared that I carried a copy of the vows in my purse until my final conversion last June."  I‘m sure you don’t share Hamza’s view, but you cannot deny that such indefensible bullying owes more than a little of its threatening tone to the Qur’an. And let us not forget that a belief in the “after-life” inevitably belittles the importance of this one -something that has been exploited for centuries by those who have abused the poor and destitute.

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