Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Is There A Difference Between Genuine Criticism Of Islam, And Anti-Muslim Bigotry?

I'm a huge fan of Muslim reformer Maajid Nawaz, and I think most of the criticisms against him are mislead. When it comes to the complex issues of Islamic extremism, Islamism, and reforming Islam for the 21st century, I really listen to his opinion. He gets it in a way that I think few others do, and it's in no small part because he's lived it. He was part of an organization called Hizb ut-Tahrir in his teens and twenties whose goal it was to spread Islamism around the world, and was later imprisoned in Egypt for 4 years due to his participation with them.

When I met Maajid in New York last September he was telling a group of men about how in the West you have two camps of people who each see Islam through the opposite extreme lens. On the political Right you have extreme Islamophobia — people who think all Muslims are terrorists who hate freedom and want to force everyone to live under Sharia law. And on the political Left you Islamophilia — the exact opposite of Islamophobia, where you have people who act as if there isn't a single genuine issue or problem with Islam itself, or with the behavior of Muslims, and who blame the West for every problem within Islamic countries or among Muslim peoples.

And so I think one of the most difficult questions for most people to answer, and one that is especially difficult for liberals to answer, is: Is there a difference between genuine criticism of Islam, and anti-Muslim bigotry? I asked this publicly in my panel at the Left Forum last year.

Because so many people, especially liberals, don't know the difference, they conflate the two, and often end up calling anyone who has genuine criticisms of Islam a bigot, an Islamophobe, a racist — or worse, a Nazi.

So what I want to do here is outline a primer on some of the differences between genuine criticism of Islam and anti Muslim bigotry to hopefully teach people the difference.

First example. Someone says, "Muslims want to impose sharia law." Is this anti-Muslim bigotry or genuine criticism of Islam? Should be obvious. It's anti-Muslim bigotry. The reason why is obviously because not all Muslims want to impose sharia law. To be genuinely critical and correct, you'd have to say, "Large numbers of Muslims support sharia law, death for apostates, and adulterers." If there is any doubt about the accuracy of this claim, read this post here.
Second example. Someone says, "The Koran has numerous verses encouraging violence against non-Muslims." Is this anti-Muslim bigotry or genuine criticism of Islam? It's not always obvious to many people, especially liberals. The answer is this is genuine criticism of Islam. Anyone who reads the Koran will notice how vociferous the violent verses in the Koran are, like in chapter 9 verses 29-30. Of course not all Muslims interpret these verses violently or literally, and so it would be bigoted to say that Muslims are inherently violent people. But you'd have to know that, and it requires some basic education in Islam, which most people are absent of.

For more examples I've created this handy graph showing more differences. Some are obvious, some not as obvious. In many liberal circles, uttering anything on the right will get you accused of anti-Muslim bigotry. However, they are all examples of genuine criticism of Islam or of Muslims.

Anti-Muslim Bigotry Genuine Criticism of Islam/Muslims

All Muslims are pedophiles Mohammad was a pedophile

All Muslims are terrorists Hundreds of millions of Muslims around the world think terrorism is sometimes justified

Muslims want to impose sharia law Large numbers of Muslims support sharia law, death for apostates, and adulterers.

We can't allow Muslims to become politicians ISIS is inspired by the Koran to kill people

Muslims beat their wives The Koran says it is OK for husbands to beat their wives on some conditions

We can't allow Muslims to become teachers/police officers Islam doesn't allow for gender equality

No one should ever trust a Muslim Islam is incompatible with secularism

Muslims hate freedom Islam doesn't allow for the freedom of people to have any sex outside marriage

A Muslim can never be a real American In countries ruled by Islamic law, non-Muslims almost always have less rights than Muslims

No one who's a Muslim should
be allowed to own a gun
Islam was spread violently early on

All Muslims want to impose their religion on other people There is no clause in the Koran or Hadith for the separation of religion and government

Muslims are inherently violent people The Koran has numerous verses encouraging violence against non-Muslims

Now what if someone tries to genuinely criticize Islam but they get their facts incorrect? Is that anti-Muslim bigotry? Well, it may appear as bigotry, but if the person had honest intentions and was just trying to point out a problem with Islam and got their numbers or facts wrong, I think we should give that person the benefit of the doubt. The problem is we can never know a person's true intentions. Issues like this aside, everyone should know the important differences here and we should accept genuine criticisms of Islam to be made without accusing everyone who makes them of being a bigot, an Islamophobe, a Nazi, a racist, or even someone on the alt-Right for that matter.

Do you know the difference between genuine criticism of Islam and anti-Muslim bigotry? What other examples can you offer? Write them in the comments below.

No comments:

Post a Comment


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...