Fundie Friday: Why Islam is not an evil religion

I find PZ’s (and other atheist blogs — I don’t mean to single him out, but he came to mind) unbridled hatred towards Muslims a bit grating and here’s why: Take those same people (the extremists to which they are usually referring), insert any other religion, and you’d get the same atrocities.

Christianity isn’t too keen on women or other cultures either, for example. So let’s tone it down, k? Muslims aren’t any more evil or loathsome than any other religion.  Religions are all equally potentially dangerous in the wrong hands. So I get really annoyed when I read something that is extremely insulting towards Muslims in general as if it’s that particular religion, as opposed to fundamentalist thinking in general, that is the cause of all that is horrible in the world.

There are some that use religion as a personal crutch, a way to deal with hardships. That is fine with me on some level (*explained below). However, some people take religion as an excuse to be an asshole — making people’s lives miserable by picketing funerals, making laws restricting what people can do with themselves and each other, spreading messages of hate, condoning violence, committing violence, exerting dominance over women/children/other races, etc. That is not ok with me on any level. And there are fundies in almost every religion who do these things.

I find the “fight” against personal spirituality/religion is alienating me from some atheists and skeptics. *Yes, magical thinking is not the best thing and it can open doors to other magical thinking like Q-Ray bracelets and such. But these are the religious moderates who are most likely to be ok with our existence and help us maintain our rights/freedoms (and possibly gain more). We’re not going to make friends with them by likening them to fundie terrorists, which is an unfair characterization anyway. It’s apples and oranges. We are also not going to open them up to critical thinking by making ourselves out to be superior for already thinking this way.

We should focus less on “religion is bad all the time” (particularly “this ONE religion is the worst and bad all the time”) and more on “fundamentalist thinking is bad all the time” because I think that’s what most of us really take issue with, but the message gets lost when we sound like assholes and lump everyone together as if they are the same. They are not the same and we are in some ways acting fundie by refusing to acknowledge this difference.

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10 responses to “Fundie Friday: Why Islam is not an evil religion

  1. I agree 100%

    I would add that I get upset when my skeptical friends mock me for being friends with religious people.

    Religion is a tool… not a very good one in a lot of ways, but still…

  2. Interesting article.
    Like to share this piece.

    THE KNOWLEDGE OF SELF

    KNOWLEDGE of self is the key to the knowledge of God, according to the saying: “He who knows himself knows God,”[1] and, as it is Written in the Koran, “We will show them Our signs in the world and in themselves, that the truth may be manifest to them.” Now nothing is nearer to thee than thyself, and if thou knowest not thyself how canst thou know anything else? If thou sayest “I know myself,” meaning thy outward shape, body, face, limbs, and so forth, such knowledge can never be a key to the knowledge of God.

    Nor, if thy knowledge as to that which is within only extends so far, that when thou art hungry thou eatest, and when thou art angry thou attackest some one, wilt thou progress any further in this path, for the beasts are thy partners in this? But real self-knowledge consists in knowing the following things: What art thou in thyself,

    [1. Traditional saying of Muhammad.]
    and from whence hast thou come? Whither art thou going, and for what purpose hast thou come to tarry here awhile, and in what does thy real happiness and misery consist? Some of thy attributes are those of animals, some of devils, and some of angels, and thou hast to find out which of these attributes are accidental and which essential. Till thou knowest this, thou canst not find out where thy real happiness lies. The occupation of animals is eating, sleeping, and fighting; therefore, if thou art an animal, busy thyself in these things. Devils are busy in stirring up mischief, and in guile and deceit; if thou belongest to them, do their work. Angels contemplate the beauty of God, and are entirely free from animal qualities; if thou art of angelic nature, then strive towards thine origin, that thou mayest know and contemplate the Most High, and be delivered from the thraldom of lust and anger. Thou shouldest also discover why thou hast been created with these two animal instincts: whether that they should subdue and lead thee captive, or whether that thou shouldest subdue them, and, in thy upward progress, make of one thy steed and of the other thy weapon.

    The first step to self-knowledge is to know that thou art composed of an outward shape, called the body, and an inward entity called the heart, or soul. By “heart” I do not mean the piece of flesh situated in the left of our bodies, but that which uses all the other faculties as its instruments and servants. In truth it does not belong to the visible world, but to the invisible, and has come into this world as a traveller visits a foreign country for the sake of merchandise, and will presently return to its native land. It is the knowledge of this entity and its attributes which is the key to the knowledge of God.

    Some idea of the reality of the heart, or spirit, may be obtained by a man closing his eves and forgetting everything around except his individuality. He will thus also obtain a glimpse of the unending nature of that individuality. Too close inquiry, however, into the essence of spirit is forbidden by the Law. In the Koran it is written: “They will question thee concerning the spirit. Say: ‘The Spirit comes by the command of my Lord.'” Thus much is known of it that it is an indivisible essence belonging to the world of decrees, and that it is not from everlasting, but created. An exact philosophical knowledge of the spirit is not a necessary preliminary to walking in the path of religion, but comes rather as the result of self-discipline and perseverance in that path, as it is said in the Koran: “Those who strive in Our way, verily We will guide them to the right paths.”

    For the carrying on of this spiritual warfare by which the knowledge of oneself and of God is to be obtained, the body may be figured as a kingdom, the soul as its king, and the different senses and faculties as constituting an army. Reason may be called the vizier, or prime minister, passion the revenue-collector, and anger the police-officer. Under the guise of collecting revenue, passion is continually prone to plunder on its own account, while resentment is always inclined to harshness and extreme severity. Both of these, the revenue-collector and the police-officer, have to be kept in due subordination to the king, but not killed or expelled, as they have their own proper functions to fulfil. But if passion and resentment master reason, the ruin of the soul infallibly ensues.

    A soul which allows its lower faculties to dominate the higher is as one who should hand over an angel to the power of a dog or a Mussalman to the tyranny of an unbeliever. The cultivation of demonic, animal, or angelic qualities results in the production of corresponding characters, which in the Day of Judgment will be manifested in visible shapes, the sensual appearing as swine, the ferocious as dogs and wolves, and the pure as angels. The aim of moral discipline is to purify the heart from the rust of passion and resentment, till, like a clear mirror, it reflects the light of God.

    Some one may here object, “But if man has been created with animal and demonic qualities as well as angelic, how are we to know that the latter constitute his real essence, while the former are merely accidental and transitory?” To this I answer that the essence of each creature is to be sought in that which is highest in it and peculiar to it. Thus the horse and the ass are both burden-bearing animals, but the superiority of the horse to the ass consists in its being adapted for use in battle. If it fails in this, it becomes degraded to the rank of burden-bearing animals. Similarly with man: the highest faculty in him is reason, which fits him for the contemplation of God. If this. predominates in him, when he dies, he leaves behind him all tendencies to passion and resentment, and becomes capable of association with angels. As regards his mere animal qualities, man is inferior to many animals, but reason makes him superior to them, as it is written in the Koran: “To man We have subjected all things in the earth.” But if his lower tendencies have triumphed, after death he will ever be looking towards the earth and longing for earthly delights.

    Now the rational soul in man abounds in, marvels, both of knowledge and power. By means of it he masters arts and sciences, can pass in a flash from earth to heaven and back again, can map out the skies and measure the distances between the stars. By it also he can draw the fish from the sea and the birds from the air, and can subdue to his service animals, like the elephant, the camel, and the horse. His five senses are like five doors opening on the external world; but, more wonderful than this,
    his heart has a window which opens on the unseen world of spirits. In the state of sleep, when the avenues of the senses are closed, this window is opened and man receives impressions from the unseen world and sometimes foreshadowings of the future. His heart is then like a mirror which reflects what is pictured in the Tablet of Fate. But, even in sleep, thoughts of worldly things dull this mirror, so, that the impressions it receives are not clear. After death, however, such thoughts vanish and things are seen in their naked reality, and the saying in the Koran is fulfilled: “We have stripped the veil from off thee and thy sight today is keen.”

    This opening of a window in the heart towards the unseen also takes place in conditions. approaching those of prophetic inspiration, when intuitions spring up in the mind unconveyed through any sense-channel. The more a man purifies himself from fleshly lusts and concentrates his mind on God, the more conscious will he be of such intuitions. Those who are not conscious of them have no right to deny their reality.

    To learn more:

    https://sacred-texts.com/isl/tah/tah05.htm

    Cheers

  3. I agree 95%.

    The other 5% comes from the treatment of women comment at the beginning. While it’s true that pretty much every religion treats women like 2nd class citizens, the Muhammadan faiths tend to be more amiable to treat women like cattle. Just look at Sharia law (which, thankfully our Premier ruled was not valid law in Ontario back in 2005).

    When I look at how women are treated in the more average Christian faiths, women can’t be priests, some can’t deliver mass, and are generally relegated to a Malibu Stacy-like level of involvement (‘don’t as me, I’m just a christian woman!). But I think the more average (read: not in North America) Islamic societies, the degree to which women are oppressed is just heart wrenching. I don’t think it’s fair to say that women in Afghanistan, Sudan, or Saudi Arabia have it similarly as tough as religious women in Ireland, Italy, Eastern Greece or the U.S.

    That is is all. Look the other way. Kittens are there. Kittens with knives.

    • I guess it’s just that as a woman I see forbidding a woman to have the same rights as a man in their religion or making rules over women’s bodies and behaviour as bad as things like killing women for disobeying because either way dogma is being chosen above the life and rights of the woman. In that regard, ALL fundamentalist thinking is bad. And I think it’s mostly those characteristics of Islam that we take issue with, not the concept in general. Although the concept of religion is silly and can be used for dangerous things, it’s most dangerous in the hands of fundies. Most people just use religion for a sense of community etc and to hell with most of the “rules”. As soon as any religion puts rules above anyone’s life or human rights, that’s fundamentalist nonsense and I find it equally appalling no matter which religion is doing the deed.

      Having Christian compounds full of women and young girls to impregnate and keep ignorant and barefoot is degrading and ridiculous, and the result of fundie thinking. So I don’t think it’s fair to single out Muslims just on the basis of severity or that the method of oppression they choose is different. Either way, misogynist fundie thinking is the culprit, not necessarily the religion itself.

    • An example of tragic fundie thinking that is as bad, IMO, as bad as fundie Islam thinking.

  4. Why every 2 minutes, someone in the U.S. is sexually assaulted?
    Why College age women are 4 times more likely to be sexually assaulted?
    Why many women become Muslim?

    http://www.themodernreligion.com/women/w_comparison_full.htm

  5. Do you read the same PZ that i do?

    Really, PZ picks on the RCC more than any other that I’m aware of, and I’ve never noticed any particular venom directed towards Islam (as compared against, say, fundamentalist Christianity, or rabid-right-wing RCCism).

    If you’re going to accuse, the evidence (which you point out you don’t have!) would be appropriate (and should be mandatory).

    We’re skeptics, after all. Or ought to be…

    • Kimbo Jones

      No I didn’t link this OPINION piece that I wrote on the fly during graduation from a master’s program (read: busy) on my way camping, so I guess you’re a better skeptic than me. Congrats. Have a beer.

      PS…Picking on other religions doesn’t fix the comments directed at Islam as though that religion is the scum of the Earth. The POINT of my article, which you seem to have missed, is that fundamentalist thinking is bad. Pick on my linking if you want to, but you’re just distracting from the point.

  6. benandcoopersdad

    Islam+Fundi thinking =Al Qaeda
    Christianity+Fundi thinking=KKK