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What Secular Indians Need to Know About Islam – Part I

April 8, 2009

During my interactions with people from different parts of India, I have come across a lot of Indians who, like me, share a distant dream. A dream of seeing India earn it’s rightful place as a truly secular nation. A dream of an India where the workings of the state is free from the influence of the temple, the mosque, the church or the gurdwara. A dream of a government which allows equal opportunity to every individual – irrespective of their religious background or the lack of it. A government that is not only secular in words but also in action. 

However, in recent years a troubling trend seems to have developed amongst secular minded individuals in India. The dangerous trend of equating secular values to that of keeping mum about the insidious dogmas of other religions. The smug error of distorting the meaning of secularism to mean censorship of public criticism about other supernatural belief systems. I am sure that most secularists have good intentions and noble motives behind such actions, but the habit of turning a blind eye to the atrocious doctrines of other religions in the name of religious tolerance is something I find unacceptable.  

Many secularists often try to distance themselves from religious discussions and despise public criticisms of other religions for fear of breeding or encouraging hatred (in a civil society why should it ?). Whenever it comes to looking at other belief systems and religious dogmas with a critical eye secularists close their eyes, seal their mouths and pat themselves on the back, assuring themselves that they had “done the right thing”. For many of them, it is OK to criticize communism, it is OK to criticize capitalism. Every other ideology, every other belief system is fair game. But, when it comes to someone else’s religion ? That’s a big NO !! That’s a place no one wants to go.

 

 

Now, we all know the typical reasons. We have all been there. Every time we feel like criticizing another religion in public, we remind ourselves of  those friends, neighbours, colleagues from that religious community – people who are extremely nice individuals and whose sentiments we are afraid to hurt. We feel that pointing out the deleterious aspects of another religion will earn us a reputation of hate-mongers, racists or bigots. We are reminded of the communal riots between different religious groups that have culminated in meaningless bloodbaths.  We are so ashamed of the atrocities inflicted in the name of religion that somewhere in a tiny box inside our brain, we convince ourselves that religion should be protected from all criticism.

So we go about our daily lives feeling terribly self-satisfied about our secular ideals. Boasting of our ability to look at other religions without prejudice. We think that somehow the problem will miraculously solve itself if we just stop discussing it.  When confronted, we brush it off saying – “it’s none of my business” or ” we need to clean our own house first”.  What we forget however, is that being secular does not mean tolerating unscientific nonsense, sexual discrimination, homophobia or blind bigotry in the name of religion. Being secular does not mean we absolve ourselves of the responsibility to fight for basic human rights for everyone – especially when that right is encroached upon by religious dogma. 

Secular Indians who feel other religions should not be criticized are not concerned about secular values or fundamental rights. They are motivated by the singular selfish desire of earning a ‘reputation’ for being secular. Their concern is not for humanity or fairness for every man, woman and child but only for gaining a good name for themselves.

 

The religion that comes up most in discussions with secular individuals and the religion everyone is most reluctant to criticize, is the religion of Islam. I find secular Indians guilty of being too complacent when it comes to looking at it critically. They behave as if everything is fine with Islam.

Even with, ~ 13% of Indians being Muslims, few Indian non-Muslims take the time and effort to read anything about Islam. Their ignorance and cluelessness becomes immediately evident the moment they open their mouths (An elderly member of my family once told me – “I don’t believe for a minute that the Quran asks people to kill anyone. The terrorists just distort the teachings of the Quran”). There are few religious books that are as stubbornly dogmatic and unabashedly sexist and blood-thirsty as the Quran (The Old Testament and The Manu Smriti are a few others) and yet, I find it frustrating and irksome when non-Muslim Indians defend it without having an iota of knowledge about the teachings contained in it. 

When they hear me criticizing Islam, they often ask me- “Don’t you see anything good in Islam?” To which my reply is generally – “my decision to eat a fruit does not depend on how appealing the fruit looks or how wonderful it tastes, but how it will make me feel tomorrow, what effect would it have on my body.” Islam to me is exactly such a fruit – a stubbornly hateful political ideology with a few saving graces.  It is like the fruit which may look good and taste nice at first, but due to insistence on shariah law, it’s opposition to free speech, democracy and human rights for everyone and it’s intransigent position on physical violence against women, unbelievers, Jews, Christians and homosexuals, it long-term effect on society is no less harmful than a poisonous fruit is to our body.

This post is a result of my frustration at the attitude of my secular Indian friends towards Islam (even though I know that I will be instantly labeled a hate-monger and a racist by them).  

Here, I will attempt to provide a glimpse of the religion known as Islam to those who have never read the Islamic holy books. The best way to learn about Islam is to read the Quran and the Hadiths critically, but since I know that very few people have the patience or the time to read it themselves, I have decided to take a different approach. In the next few posts I will be posting parts of a documentary called “Islam: What The West Needs To Know” broken into several ~10-min videos. The documentary consists of discussions on Islam, it’s ideology, it’s history by several Islamic scholars and actual footage of terrorist attacks and political rhetoric from top politicians and clerics.

Watching this documentary is not the same as reading the quran or the hadiths but my goal is to provide a glimpse into the political ideology called ‘Islam’. People who are interested to learn more can check out the numerous websites run by Muslims and ex-Muslims on the Internet.  This post is only meant as a starting point for people who want to know about Islam.

Each video below discusses a few topics on Islam which I have tried to  enumerate under each video. Even though the topics are related, you may jump to a particular video if you find something relevant or interesting.

*****************************************

Part 1 (Video length : 9:51 mins)

 

Points raised/Questions answered

1.  Is Islam really a peaceful religion as most politicians claim ?

2.  Do Islamic terrorists belong to fringe movement within Islam and hence non-representative of the “real” Islam ?

3.  Life and actions of prophet Muhammad.

               –  Genocide of 600 -900 Jews at the hands of prophet Muhammad

 4. Are the beheading by the  mujahideens (Islamic holy warriors) a work of brutal men or are they influenced by Islam and Muhammad’s life ?

 

 *******************************************

Part 2 (Video length 9:57)

 

Points raised/Questions answered

1. The status of Quran in Islam. Can the Quran be questioned, changed or abrogated? Can moderate Muslims challenge the Quran ?

2. The Quranic Law and the Hadiths (narratives on the life of prophet Muhammad)

3.  Why does the Quran contain both peaceful verses and verses which instigate violence ? Does the Quran ask it’s followers to fight against Jews and Christians and subdue them?

4. The arrangement of verses in the Quran. Quran not arranged chronologically but from longest chapter to shortest.

 

 ******************************************

Part 3 (Video length 9:49)

 

Points raised/Questions answered

1.  What effect does chronology have on Quranic teachings?  The famous Surah 9 – The verse of the sword .

2. Why were certain verses in the Quran abrogated by Muhammad? Where does it preach violence against Jews, Christians and apostates ?

 3.  Laws mandated against non-believers. If Islam is such a violent religion why are some moderate Muslims peaceful ?

4.  Why aren’t Muslims required or mandated to follow  the peaceful verses in the Quran? Some more violent verses in the Quran

5. Is Jihad the only way to achieve salvation and heaven in Islam? Does Islam advocate suicide ? 

 

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Speakers in the documentary:

Serge Trifkovic – Foreign affairs editor, Chronicles magazine

Robert Spencer – Author of Islam Unveiled and Director of Jihadwatch.org

Bat Ye’or – Author of The Dhimmi : Jews and Christians under Islam

Abdullah Al-Araby – Director of The Pen vs. The Sword Publications

Walid Shoebat – Former PLO Fatah Brigade terrorist and author of Why I Left Jihad

 

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34 Comments leave one →
  1. Indyeah permalink
    April 9, 2009 12:21 am

    ”Secular Indians who feel other religions should not be criticized are not concerned about secular values or fundamental rights. They are motivated by the singular selfish desire of earning a ‘reputation’ for being secular. Their concern is not for humanity or fairness for every man, woman and child but only for gaining a good name for themselves. ”

    Exactly!!We think we can only criticise our own religion because we are better informed to do so…we make no effort to learn anything about other religions at all..

    During my Masters, I read all I could about Islam and this was the foremost question on my mind too.
    ”Is Islam really a peaceful religion as most politicians claim ? ”

    And sadly, because of the very same reasons that you have listed above I too have shied away from discussing it.

    I always convince myself that I know nothing about Islam so how can I even discuss it? All I have read are tomes on islam but I could be branded an Islam hater in a second..

    (the following is in ref to a debate on my blog about freedom of expression soemtime back…actually two debates)

    You know this is why I thought that religion in India is a such a dicey thing…it should be handled with care…criticism and open questioning is very much required its direly needed infact.. but also ensuring that sentiments do not get inflamed ..because there are so many just lying in wait to take advantage and start some more blooshed

    I am all for responsible, mature criticism and also a gradual effort to make people understand the nitty gritties of paintings(like the Hussain/saraswati one) or how Rushdie is writing nothing blasphemous(again people need to be made aware that it is an okay book to read)

    the problem starts when such paintings/books get painted/published and the aam janta is made to feel by fundamentalists that their religion ahs been insulted…

    so even before we can take a step further and tell people about how beautiful certain art works are, we get pushed back inot more bloodshed and a regressive past

    This is why I argued and have agrued taht freeom of expression in India can not be ABSOLUTE as of now..it has to be handled very very carefully

  2. Indyeah permalink
    April 9, 2009 3:41 am

    Also this question still haunts me…can I ever or will I ever be abel to ask any of the custodians of religions like Islam or Hinduism and otehrs as to whether the religions are really peaceful or just a sham?Without getting my head bitten off or without listening to a patronising tone from them?
    Coz they either start quoting from scriptures/holy books(duh!) or start getting defensive…

    have never come across someone in real life who is from a particualr religion and is willing toi criticise it vehemently..looking at it dispassionately

    • nitwitnastik permalink*
      April 9, 2009 8:04 am

      Indyeah. Welcome to my blog !

      To be truthful, there are few things which makes a blogger more happy than to see long thoughful comments on his/her blog 🙂 So I thank you for your comment and appreciate the time and energy you have taken to write it.

      Coming back to the discussion, I agree with what you had to say . I know I will be branded a muslim hater in an instant, although my beef is with islam and muslim fanatics not with ordinary muslims. Fanatics who want to see Islam and shariah law imposed everywhere.

      I agree with you that criticism of religion can lead to more bloodshed, but I feel it is a choice we have to make sooner or later, if we want to have a better society that is. Yes, that also means that we have to live with the consequences for better or for worse. I am sure had no one criticized the practice of sati that inhuman pratice would not have been abolished. Same goes for a lot of other religious practices or even people’s objection to gay marriage (when I was still a believer I used to be a vociferous protestor against gay marriage but now, thanks to discussions with people I have realized where I was wrong. This would have never happened had no one cared to object and kept their silence). Keeping mum is often seen as tacit approval. So we have to speak out whenever we feel there is an injustice. Even when the consequences are not what we desire. Change happens slowly but can we expect any change without even trying.

      Without getting my head bitten off or without listening to a patronising tone from them?
      Coz they either start quoting from scriptures/holy books(duh!) or start getting defensive…

      It’s unfortunate that in India, we hardly come across people who criticize religion vehemently. That’s a real problem and had I not moved away from my family or been exposed to atheist literature in a foreign country, I would have never become one. Religion in India is more due to peer pressure than a real belief in any deity. I have an uncle who has communist bent of mind and I find it mildly amusing when he prays to God every single morning before leaving for work 🙂 In fact, I remember how I used to behave when I met atheists in India, before I became one. I used to pity them for their ignorance. What’s ironical is today I get hate mails from people who say the same things about me. LOL 😀

      • Kaffir permalink
        April 13, 2009 2:35 pm

        when I was still a believer I used to be a vociferous protestor against gay marriage but now, thanks to discussions with people I have realized where I was wrong.

        AFAIK, there’s nothing in Hinduism that says homosexuality is unnatural and that homosexuals need to be persecuted, and there has been space for people to express their different sexuality and/or gender (different from mainstream). So, not sure what you believed in and where you got your belief – assuming you grew up as a Hindu.

        If you are talking about the cultural and social views in India on gays and lesbians, then it can be traced to the Brits and their laws outlawing homosexuality (which was probably derived from Christianity) which India adopted without questioning.

        • nitwitnastik permalink*
          April 13, 2009 4:18 pm

          Hey Kaffir, cool down buddy !! Just take it easy, OK 🙂

          First let me welcome you to my blog and even though I am flattered by the slew of 12 comments from you within a period of ~1and 1/2 hour, I must say it’s a little difficult to keep up with all the stuff you have to say. I may not get to/answer all of your comments but I will try. I will at least try to answer the ones you have posed for me with as much honesty and sincerity as possible – even if it makes me look foolish as I have done before in my blog (I have never claimed to be perfect)

          I have read your comments before at Nirmukta and at Shantanu’s blog and I am aware that you like to ask pointed questions to anyone who criticizes Hinduism and I welcome that, even though I feel you are particularly soft and more forgiving of anyone who supports the Hindutva cause/right-wing Hindu politics (although I may be wrong). I wish you could turn your gun of critical enquiry at them too and not overlook their beliefs/theories/assertions, but well I cannot hope anything that I myself cannot live upto. Frankly, as long as the discussion is civil I am Ok with it. After all, we do learn more about our beliefs from people who challenge us than from people who don’t. I can myself vouch for that. So I appreciate your questions and comments and I hope we can discuss more. Even if we don’t agree with each other.

          I hope to reply to your comments when I have some more time. Again thanks for visiting my blog.

          • Kaffir permalink
            April 13, 2009 4:29 pm

            🙂 🙂

            Sorry about flooding your posts with my comments. Take your time to answer – or not.

            Yes, I do ask pointed questions, just like you do.

            As for criticizing Hindutva, I personally haven’t read the theory of Hindutva (that’s next on my list – to read and understand and evaluate it, instead of going by what the media projects), but I do have one standard to judge 1984 and 2002, instead of different ones like many do – at least I try, and please point out any inconsistency if you see it. Last time I checked, being a Hindu or being religious is not a crime in India, as is supporting any political party – none of them is perfect.

          • Kaffir permalink
            April 13, 2009 4:31 pm

            Frankly, as long as the discussion is civil I am Ok with it.

            Yup. We’re on the same page.

      • Kaffir permalink
        April 13, 2009 2:42 pm

        Religion in India is more due to peer pressure than a real belief in any deity.

        I’d be a little careful to extrapolate your personal experience as the norm in India, which is quite diverse and complex. I grew up in India too, and I never felt any peer pressure, nor did my parents (Hindus) pressured me into believing anything, or doing anything religious that I didn’t want to do. And I can say that my experience wasn’t something unique or on the margins.

        Looks like you were unfortunate to grow up in an environment where you felt pressured into believing religious stuff. Experience like yours doesn’t mean that Hinduism itself pressures people – you’re as likely to find understanding Hindus who don’t pressure anyone, as you are to find fearful Hindus who put pressure on their peers or their children.

        As an adult, you’re free to go on your own journey.

  3. April 9, 2009 4:39 am

    I would like to add another good reference here:

    http://www.butterfliesandwheels.com/articleprint.php?num=384

    This provides literal translations and IMO very unbiased analysis of various relevant parts of Qur’an.

    On the flip side, Manoj TV’s latest article on Islam’s progressive past, now decadent, was also quite revealing.

    • nitwitnastik permalink*
      April 9, 2009 8:11 am

      Sandip, Welcome to my blog and Thanks for sharing the link. The article seems long so I hope to read it when I get a chance. I haven’t yet read Manoj TV’s article but I plan to read it this weekend.

  4. April 9, 2009 2:46 pm

    Nitwit Nastik,

    You said:
    “They are motivated by the singular selfish desire of earning a ‘reputation’ for being secular.”

    There are a couple of other reasons why Islam is given a free-pass:

    1. Double-edged sword: Unabashed critique of Islam will inevitably result in serious inquiry/critique of one’s own faith. Most Indians (Hindus) would rather not attract conversational attention to Draupadi’s 5 husbands or to monkey-gods or to blood-drinking goddesses. Most Hindus do not get too rigid about these theological constructs and prefer to treat them as metaphorical and thus preserve their ‘sanctity’. But if one got too invasive and started talking about Prophet Mohammed and his 6 year-old bride …. they fear similar harsh examination of their own faiths and that would be just too discomfiting. Its just easier to ignore / overlook Islamic prescriptions about polygamy.

    2. Association with right-wing blowhards:
    This is not just true about Indians but also westerners. Often, the most virulent criticism of Religion-X comes from the rabid followers of Religion-Y. An average person may find Islam offensive but criticism of the same makes him/her sound too much like the rabid foaming-at-the-mouth fanatics of another religion. One just does not want to be seen as a Hindutva-zealot or a Christian-fundamentalist. So one takes the easier way out and stays out of the discussion altogether. Unfortunately this evasive action is counter-productive because it cedes the discourse to those least qualified to conduct it (i.e. zealots of a different stripe).

    So we see a cofluence of factors:
    a. Need to be seen as “above religious acrimony”
    b. Need to protect one’s own creed/beliefs.
    c. Need to distance oneself from religious zealots.

    It is a healthy trend that folks like you are challenging this status-quo. By examining and criticizing Islam (or any other religion) on rational grounds, rather than ideological or theological grounds, we are showing that we can discuss these things without being religious zealots ourselves.

    I realize all this now – but to be quite honest I was one of those same people that would excuse Islam or look the other way. Over time, I have understood the liability of this approach. The carnage in Mumbai (26/11) was my turning point where I could no longer excuse myself for this intellectual-lethargy and intellectual-cowardice. That is when I started my blog.

    Cheers.

    Cheers

    • nitwitnastik permalink*
      April 9, 2009 7:30 pm

      Holydude, Thanks for the long introspective comment. Today seems to be my lucky day 🙂

      You hit the nail right on the head. Thats exactly why many people choose to keep their mouths shut. They would rather talk about it or criticize Islamic dogmas behind closed doors but coming out with their opinions in public seems impossible.

      The unfortunate thing is that we want to have it both ways. One on side we don’t want any enmity with any religious group on the other hand we do not want to see religious fundamentalists violate human rights or dictate our lives. It is stupidity on our part to think that we will be succesful in doing that. Sooner or later we have to stop sitting on the fences and choose a side. The sooner the better

    • April 11, 2009 11:33 am

      HolyDude, I started my blog a day after the Delhi blasts last year (the whole obsession of the media with Shivraj Patil and his clothing urge). That was my turning point, to borrow a phrase.

    • Kaffir permalink
      April 13, 2009 2:52 pm

      Of course, why admit to oneself that the “religious blowhards” have got it right when it comes to criticism of Islam. That would be intellectually dishonest. 😉

      And that should also tell you about the guilty-by-association tactic that the so-called liberals and progressives apply (“either you’re with us or you’re against us”) when it comes to Islam (as well as the question of your confessed self-censoring in an environment that guarantees freedom-of-speech, living among its champions) and their total failure to analyze Islam, yet they continue to hold a higher position. Why?

      What else have the so-called liberals got wrong about the world? Start digging deeper instead of self-censoring to fit in. 🙂

    • Kaffir permalink
      April 13, 2009 3:50 pm

      “Unabashed critique of Islam will inevitably result in serious inquiry/critique of one’s own faith. Most Indians (Hindus) would rather not attract conversational attention to Draupadi’s 5 husbands or to monkey-gods or to blood-drinking goddesses.”

      HolyDude:
      I doubt that there’s anything in Hinduism similar to “fitna”. Hinduism has always encouraged criticism and open thinking and questioning, and it is all about finding one’s own path.

      What most people like you do, is conflate some people’s behavior, or peer pressure, or social norms with Hinduism/religion. (I did that too, before I started exploring Hinduism independent of Hindutva/BJP.)

      Or it is shame about one’s own religion that comes from:
      1. Lack of knowledge about Hinduism, or
      2. Seeing how non-Hindus perceive it if one is living among them, or
      3. Inability to answer questions from non-Hindus regarding Draupadi and “blood-drinking goddesses”, or
      4. Living in a liberal/progressive environment where religion bashing (though only Christianity in the US, and Hinduism in India) is the norm and self-censoring oneself,

      thus resulting in self-hatred.

      I wouldn’t be surprised if you live in the US where Hinduphobia is the norm. You should check this essay out.

      It’s like blaming the recipe if some (not all) cooks burn the dish and serve it to you. You are free to go read the original recipe and make your own dish, instead of going by the burnt dish of others discouraging you from exploring. But so many like you would rather go by the example of the burnt dish and form an opinion about the recipe and blame the recipe, instead of exploring the recipe oneself.

      What’s liberal or progressive or open-minded about your approach, escapes me. 🙂

      BTW, why is Draupadi having five husbands a problem, and by what framework? If those five husbands and Draupadi didn’t have any problem with that arrangement, why should it bother others? The liberal and progressive thinking says let others live their lives the way they want to live, as long as it doesn’t affect others. Isn’t that the explanation given for gay rights? Similarly, if Kunti and Pandu had an arrangement where Kunti had sex with devas, so be it. And then you guys also think that Hinduism condemns gays when there are liberal examples of accepting different sexuality and different arrangements staring you right in your faces. I sometimes have to wonder how much do you really know about Hinduism, and whether you’ve really given these depictions some thought, or are you simply brainwashed into rejecting everything in Hinduism as negative, just like people are brainwashed into self-censoring themselves instead of criticizing Islam.

      • Frustrated permalink
        August 24, 2009 9:16 am

        Awesome explanations – Kafir and Guerre. I am really proud of you guys. Yeah, why feel embarrassed about Draupadi for marrying 5 guys. We wouldn’t be embarrassed about Draupadi marrying 5 guys and wouldn’t be embarrased about gays doing whatever they want to do. This blogger is getting confused with rules based religions and Hinduism. And all my life I only saw Hindus just stay quiet or keep to themselves when they see Atheists or Agnostics and not tell them that
        “you should be saved by Jesus”. Why be embarrased about anything in Hinduism? Sati is a social problem just like hundreds of thousands of women killed in the western world because they were suspected of witch craft. Caste system is a social problem just like slavery. Hinduism never had holy wars, never sends money and missionaries to force/coerce people into converting. You can be an Atheist or Agnostic or whatever. It is wonderful that it is not an Organized religion. Stupid people don’t understand the fact that – yeah Draupadi married 5 men but she didn’t impose that on other people and thats the beauty. And you only see that kind of impositions in Abrahmaic relgions (especially the ones that proselytize – Christianity and Islam). So whats the problem. Also it is ridiculous that this blogger says we follow Hinduism because of peer pressure. Are you kidding me with this BS? I was baffled at how going to Church every Sunday is considered being a good Christian. And there are many more examples like this that would make you feel good about not being part of the Organized religions.

    • guerre permalink
      May 9, 2009 1:54 pm

      holy dude .. while the one word reply to boring and inaccurate tirade on hinduism would be “wtf crap” ,, kaffir has given a fairley informative reply int he false hope that it will make “sickulars” like u to think ….
      ur very comments prove that u havent spent any time on learning abt sanatana dharma or even if u did , seems like u have not acquired any meaningful understanding of the faith … better late than never ..
      lets start here … in the sanatana dharma , vedas are the final word … and they dont deal with anything on a material perspective and esp the upanishads tell us to rise above all thoughts to realise the oneness in all , to a state of consciousness that alone is truth … there is no innjuction in the vedas even to marry , these are codifications put in by rishis in the form of smritis ie text based on their understanding of the vedas (the shruthi)and hence man made and hence open to amendments …
      besides , no true sanatani is f***** afraid of criticising islam for fear of being criticised back ….
      u english speaking indians just enjoy strutting ur ignorance by way of such random and half-baked statements abt the sanatana dharma , dont u?

  5. Indian Homemaker permalink
    April 10, 2009 9:25 pm

    ‘Being secular does not mean we absolve ourselves of the responsibility to fight for basic human rights for everyone – especially when that right is encroached upon by religious dogma.’

    Absolutely agree here, Nitwit Nastik! To me such criticism must have that one goal in mind, better lives for all, and also it should not become an excuse to claim our faith is superior to theirs, because that would only serve to put them on defensive – and what good would that achieve?

    In today’s India the loudest voices that criticise Islam are the voices (most unfortunately) of Hindutva forces, they also claim India is for Hindus, and Hindutva is a way of life which must be followed by all including non Hindus. The same people who are so eager to hear Islam being criticised are the ones who insist that the Ramayana and the Mahabharata are a part of History and will lay their lives (or more likely take lives) for Ram Sethu or Babri Masjid issues. This would still be fine if it did not make those who do not wish to be identified with saffron fundamentalists to be careful while voicing their criticism.
    This has definitely done a lot of damage to progressive vices within and outside Islam. I find myself learning all that is wrong with Islam with the flood of links sent by email 🙂 And I find Islam being criticized a lot much more than any other religion in the blogosphere. Including by those who are in the best position to do this, three of my favorite bloggers, Tazneen, Nimmy and Annie Zaidi.

    But I like theier criticism the best because it is goal oriented, the aim is not Islam bashing, but injustice bashing. I would like to follow their example.

    • nitwitnastik permalink*
      April 11, 2009 8:09 am

      IHM,

      I agree that criticism should have one goal in mind and that is to better lives for all. And, you know very well that I reject every religion for that matter because every religion is more or less the same. Every religion has justified inhuman acts on others in the name of God. Women today are mistreated in every part of the world only because religion gives men the free reign to do what he wants, with the excuse that “God said so”. Hence, I unabashedly bash every religion as you must have noticed by now 🙂 As a non-theist blogger my goal is to point out the injustices and craziness of every religion and not single out any religion. In matter of religion I am what an atheist blogger pointed out – ” an equal opportunity offender” 🙂

      The purpose of this post was to enlighten those secular individuals who think Islam is all fine and peachy. People who know nothing about Islam and yet maintain that there’s nothing wrong with islam. Something which I vehemently protest.

      “In today’s India the loudest voices that criticise Islam are the voices (most unfortunately) of Hindutva forces, they also claim India is for Hindus, and Hindutva is a way of life which must be followed by all including non Hindus. “

      Exactly. Please read holydude’s comment above. I think both of you are right.

      But I like theier criticism the best because it is goal oriented, the aim is not Islam bashing, but injustice bashing.

      Yes, I agree although I am not sure how we can criticize injustice in the name of a religion without criticizing that religion itself. Don’t you think that the injustice is just the effect and not the cause? So can we really hope to change anything without pointing out the cause from which that injustice stems?

    • Kaffir permalink
      April 13, 2009 2:59 pm

      “This would still be fine if it did not make those who do not wish to be identified with saffron fundamentalists to be careful while voicing their criticism.”

      IHM:
      But why should you have to self-censor yourself, if you live in a free, liberal society that encourages dialog? Why should you be afraid of what the liberals think of your stance, if you are confident in your analysis and have done your homework? If someone clubs you with the “saffron brigade” for speaking your mind, why do they continue to be called “liberals/progressives” when what they’re displaying is close-mindedness and discouraging open dialog? Why do they construe criticism as hatred, while being above such accusations while criticizing others? Should we label them as Hindutva-haters for their valid criticisms?

      Lots to think about. 🙂

    • Kaffir permalink
      April 13, 2009 3:24 pm

      “But I like theier criticism the best because it is goal oriented, the aim is not Islam bashing, but injustice bashing. I would like to follow their example.”

      I hope you apply the same approach to criticizing Hindutva too. Or is the goal-oriented love only reserved for some people, and not others? 😉 😀

  6. April 11, 2009 11:43 am

    NN,

    I wanted to say so much after reading your post, but looks like your readers have already said most of it! On a personal note, when I was younger, I was often accused of being “soft” on Islam during debates with my right-leaning friends on Hindutva and Hinduism. “Pseudosecular” is the phrase that they often resorted to. And in retrospect, they weren’t entirely wrong. However, the reason why I fell short on a fair criticism was because of my lack of knowledge of, and lack of experience with Islam. It’s easier criticising something we deal with in daily life. However, that was years ago.

    On an unrelated note, I read, and liked, “Journey Into Islam” by Akbar Ahmed recently. He was, as he confesses, ignorant aboout the “real” Islam and had lived believing it was a religion like any other. The book follows his journey into the Islamic world after 9/11 with a few of his Americal students. Lovely book.

    • nitwitnastik permalink*
      April 11, 2009 8:31 pm

      Siddharth, that was the same with me. I remember having heated debates with my friends where I have been called all sort of names for defending Islam. But that was before I read about Islam. Now I know better.

      I haven’t read Journey into Islam but I will add it to my reading list. Thanks for the suggestion.

      • Kaffir permalink
        April 13, 2009 3:04 pm

        So did you tell your friends that they were right and you were wrong?

        Or did you label them Hindutva/fundamentalists to dismiss their points? 🙂

        It’s good to explore one’s views, and I’m glad you did.

  7. Kumar permalink
    April 12, 2009 7:38 am

    http://www.geocities.com/Athens/Academy/7368/convert_indranichandara.htm

    I can not remember a single Muslim imam entering Hinduism , can you???

    • nitwitnastik permalink*
      April 12, 2009 8:01 am

      Kumar/Naheem/Akhtar whoever you may be, I would appreciate if you take the time to read my post. Posting from the same IP address but with 5 different user names (within a period of a few minutes) doesn’t make your point any stronger. I am willing to discuss any point logically and with civility if you choose to do so. However, posting 4-page long comments, lifted verbatim from other websites, pointing out the problems with hinduism and and the glory of Islam and then immediately posting a hindutva articles with a hindu name to try and fool me into believing that they are different people and to check if I am selectively allowing comments doesn’t work with me. I am an atheist blogger if you haven’t noticed already and have no sympathy for fundamentalist points of view of any religion.

      I am NOT going to publish your comments in the future since I believe you haven’t read even a single sentence of my post and you are trying to create a nuisance by hijacking the thread or distract my readers. Thank you for you five previous 4-page long (20 pages in total) comments. I am sure you can use a break from writing such long posts and try something shorter for a change 🙂

  8. Jahnabi permalink
    April 17, 2009 5:20 pm

    Hello NN,

    I was really amazed reading your post…:-)

    I guess I am the ‘TYPE’ of character you have mentioned in your post i.e. ‘The Secular Indian’.

    I was brought up in a cosmopolitan city and I have friends who are Hindus, Muslims and Christans by religion but I don’t remember discussing the various aspects of our religion ever. We greeted each other on our respective festivals, exchanged sweets and enjoyed together.

    I could never ever believe that ‘ANY’ religion could preach violence!!! Because, I think, what religion is meant for is to ‘BOUND’ the people together in a bond. So if somebody were discussing that Islam does preach violence, I never agreed to this and always preferred being deaf and dumb for the moment…because to me my Muslim friends represented Islam and I never found them violent!! Again I must mention that I have never been in any riots based on religion…so I don’t know, as is usually said, how even sane people acts like insane at that time of crisis…

    All these religious texts were written at an ancient time when people were more or less barbaric…far from civilization and trying to get civilized…so the things that might have been seemed right at that time to ‘UNITE’ the people must have been incorporated in those texts…which may not be right morally… so if any relious group blindly follows those texts to this date then it has bound to be savage !!!

    When a child is born he/she is innocent… doesn’t know what religion is…its the values of the family that shapes up the character of the child as he/she grows up to an adult… so I don’t understand what is the need of any religion if it doesn’t serves its ‘BASIC’ requirement of ‘Uniting the PEOPLE together’ ??

    After reading your post I felt that I should go through atleast the synopsis of Quran and Hadith and should also read Hindu religious book (haven’t ever opened these either)…or I guess your ‘Video Crash Course’ could also help me with this 😉

    • nitwitnastik permalink*
      April 19, 2009 8:55 pm

      Jahnabi, thank you for your comment. I am glad that you felt the need to look up the Quran and hadith. One has to read it to understand the real Islam.

    • binu permalink
      November 30, 2009 1:30 am

      hi, for the first time i have come across ur website. i am from nepal. i love content of ur website. there has been lot of bloodshed going in the name of religion. In nepal recently thousnads of innocent animals were sacrificed in the name of religion.

Trackbacks

  1. What Secular Indians Need to Know About Islam - Part II « Nitwit Nastik
  2. Indian Secularists and their attitude towards Islam « Beliefs, Religion and Reason - A perspective of Hindu Atheist
  3. What Secular Indians Need to Know About Islam - Part III « Nitwit Nastik
  4. To Answer A Few Comments « Nitwit Nastik

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