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What Secular Indians Need to Know About Islam – Part III

April 12, 2009

Continued from Part 1 and Part 2 of this post.

Recently while browsing through the Internet, I became aware that a particular section of secular Indians feel that there’s absolutely nothing wrong with Islam and that Islam is perfectly OK. I am not sure if they view anything wrong with ANY religion. But if I am to venture a reasonable guess, I would think – they probably don’t. They probably think that all religions are great and IF ONLY humans didn’t distort religion the way they have, everything would have been perfect with this world. 

Now, I am sure that this section of secular Indians have noble intentions when they exonerate Islam of being hateful, sexist or homophobic, and I do not doubt their sincerity. But, I think they are either terribly ignorant about Islam and the real threat it poses or are being extremely naive. 

I started off my third and final post trying to answer/rebut all the questions/ assertions I have heard from secular Indians about Islam, but soon realized that it was making my post too long (this post already has 4 videos) and thought I might as well complete this series here and write a separate post discussing the questions/assertions forwarded by them (or wait to get some more questions). So, if anyone has any questions and would like to discuss the points mentioned in the documentary, I will be glad to discuss them in my future post.

Here are the last 4 videos of the documentary for anyone who haven’t watched them already.


Part 7 (Duration : 9:46)



 Points raised/Questions answered

1. The concept of ‘taqiyya’– or religious deception. When is a Muslim allowed to lie or cheat according to Islam?

2. Do fundamentalist muslims employ deceptive means to deceive non-Muslims? 




Part 8 (Duration : 9:46)



Points raised/Questions answered

1. Is criticism of Islam a racist act ? Should non-Muslims refrain from questioning Islam ?

2. Is Islam a religion or a political ideology ?

3. Sharia Law’s control over Muslim society and behavior. Racist laws in Islam. Civil rights for non-Muslims in Muslim societies. Who is a dhimmi – a willing non-Muslim subordinate in Muslim society.

4. Religious intolerance of Muslims in different parts of the world. Persecution of non-Muslims by Muslims in Muslim majority countries.



Part 9 (Duration : 9:46) 


Points raised/Questions answered

1. What is Jahilyya ? How do Muslims perceive western societies ?

2. What is Islam’s political agenda? Political character of Islam

3. What does Islam say about peace with enemies? When should Muslims make peace with non-Muslims? What is ‘hudna’?

* video of a terrorist act

4. Can there be any negotiation with the jihadists? What does Islamic law say about peace with enemies?



Part 10 (Duration : 9:44) 


1. Misunderstandings about Islamic ideology. Is there any end to jihad?

2.  Similarities between Islam, communism and nazism.



Speakers in the documentary:

Serge Trifkovic – Foreign affairs editor, Chronicles magazine

Robert Spencer – Author of Islam Unveiled and Director of

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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23 Comments leave one →
  1. April 12, 2009 11:55 pm

    Thanks for a link to this set of videos. It was very informative and opened my eyes to a lot of facets of Islam.

    However, as always, I am deeply skeptical of the media, and while excerpts from the religious sources sound authentic, I am curious about how choosy were they about picking the pieces out. A lot of the text seems inter-related, and a piece by itself can possibly sound barbaric but a later verse can bring in more sense. So while, this gives me a lot of ammo to ask tough questions, I will keep my mind open about different interpretations about stuff in it.

    After all, drastically different ways of life are being practiced in countries from Egypt to Iran and Malaysia, and everywhere people believe that they are being as true as their prophet wanted.

    One common question that fellow Indian muslims are always asked ( and was recently even mentioned in news) was whether India is considered Dar-ul-Islam and Dar-ul-Harb. Now the video makes it seem as if every true muslim would look at the world with these two simple classifications. But it seems there are different interpretations.

    Here is one interpretation – and one which again quotes heavily from Qu’ran and Hadith, to basically say that Dar-ul-Harb is actually a place where Muslims are discouraged from practicing their faith or way of life.

    And this is another example as to how selective excerpts from these sources can always change the final derived meaning.

    It is almost as if, you can decide a meaning in advance and interpret the text to suit that meaning. 🙂 And I hardly see this unique to Islam.

    • nitwitnastik permalink*
      April 13, 2009 7:00 am

      Sandip, Thank you for your comment and good to know that you viewed all of those videos. I appreciate your open-mindedness and we should all keep our minds open. However as I mentioned in my post, these videos were only meant as a starting point. A person needs to read the Quran and the hadiths himself/herself and come to judgements based on them. If after reading the texts, he or she feels that the charges in these videos are baseless then he or she is free to say so. I don’t think the arguments in these videos are baseless but then again that’s just my opinion and everyone is entitled to his/her opinion.

      Having read the Quran and the Hadiths, which I presume you have read too, I don’t think the documentary is unfair. There’s a lot of violence in those two texts. And talking about unfairness and cherry picking verses, I think the purpose of this documentary was to show the other side of Islam – the side which you never hear from the mullahs, muslim apologists, politicians or the mainstream media. The purpose was not to give a balanced view but to counter/rebut arguments which we hear from most politicians – that of Islam being a good religion and a peaceful religion.

      YOu know it’s curious that when we hear the muslim apologists speak about Islam we do not demand that same degree of fairness and honesty from them. Few of them talk about the genocide by Mohammad, the peophilia, the fact that peaceful verses were later abrogated etc. So isn’t it fair on our part to not have two different criteria for judging any person who talks about Islam. Shouldn’t we expect that same degree of fairness and honesty from the mullahs and muslim apologists too? Anyway, all I am asking is that just as it is good to be skeptical of the motives of people who criticize Islam, I think that if we are sincere we should be skeptical of the motives of muslim apologists too. Also we should remeber that the jihadists are cherry picking verses too and which verses do you think they are picking up? If we look at those verses, we know that there cannot be two interpretations to those verses. I don’t know how the word ” kill” can be interpreted in a different way. That was the entire point of this video.

      Btw, the Quran is not arranged chronologicaly so a later verse does not mean it was written later in time as the documentary points out. The peaceful verses in fact were written when Mohammad was still weak and before the violent verses were written, which makes the peaceful verses null and void.

      It is almost as if, you can decide a meaning in advance and interpret the text to suit that meaning.

      Well said 🙂 I absolutely agree with you that interpretations do change the meaning and that is why it is so difficult to convince any believer why their religion is wrong in such and such places, because the moment you point to a verse to make your point, they are going to come back and say that you have misinterpreted the verse and actually it means such-and-such.

    • Singer permalink
      February 24, 2010 9:55 pm


      This is from “Dictionary of Islam” (Thomas P. Hughes)

      Daru ‘l-Islam
      “In a state brought under Muslims, all those who do not embrace the faith are placed under certain disabilities. They can worship God according to their own customs, provided they are not idolaters; but it must be done without any ostentation, and, whilst churches and synagogues may be repaired, no new place of worship can be erected. The construction of churches or synagogues in Muslim territory is unlawful, this being forbidden in the Traditions; but if places of worship belonging to Jews or Christians be destroyed or fall into decay, they are at liberty to repair them, because buildings cannot endure forever.

      Idol temples must be destroyed, and idolatry suppressed by force in all countries ruled according to strict Muslim law (Hidayah, vol ii, p219) ”

      I would recommend that dictionary. You should look up “Zimmi” aka Dhimmi. Worth reading the entire entry. In short, Jews and Christians get to be zimmi/dhimmi, where they face what we would consider discrimination (some restrictions listed in the Daru ‘l-Islam text above), and pay a jizya tax. All other religions would not fall in this category. Only Jews and Christians. For everyone else if no exemption is made for them to have the option of being a zimmi, it is conversion, death or enslavement. The polytheists of Arabia had it just a little worse – for them there was no option of enslavement, they had two choices conversion or death.

  2. April 12, 2009 11:59 pm

    … and now I wonder if imposition of the Uniform civil code as being pushed by BJP, would change India’s dar-ul-* status. 😉

    • nitwitnastik permalink*
      April 13, 2009 7:01 am

      LOL 😀 !!

    • Kaffir permalink
      April 13, 2009 2:23 pm


      Could you please cite a link to BJP’s position on UCC, and how exactly are they imposing it? Thanks a lot.

      And what’s stopping other “liberal” and “secular” parties from coming up with a version of UCC that’s not an imposition on anyone?

  3. April 13, 2009 3:48 am

    All sources are Islamaphobic (Robert Spencers is known to spread hatred against Islam).

    Please read this article to get a better picture about the dhimmi thing…

    Moreover… get your information on Islam from Muslims and Muslim scholars… instead of people who malign Islam…n twist meanings n present a false understanding… ask the experts.. ask Muslims about their religion…

    Otherwise u’ll just end up like those bunch of conspiracy theorists and those who bring out a -ve explanation from every possible event.

    • nitwitnastik permalink*
      April 15, 2009 9:30 pm

      Thank you for your comment Saudi Lives. I am sure you believe that everyone who criticizes islam is an islam hater and an islamophobe. May I ask you about your definition of an Islamic “expert” ? It must be someone who supports islamic teachings rather than criticize it. Isn’t it? Looked at your blog too and I am sure you believe Islam is a perfect religion and is above and beyond criticism . So it’s no surprise that you think likewise.

  4. myminddroppings permalink
    April 13, 2009 3:23 pm

    Hi Sandip,

    You ask “Is India considered Dar-ul-Islam and Dar-ul-Harb”.

    Frankly, this question is more insulting to one’s intellect than whatever answer one comes up with.

    Why should ANYONE have ANY right to refer ANY country/society as Dar-ul-this or Dar-ul-that? This is akin to asking if a Hindu / Christian / Parsi / Sikh should be considered “Kafir” (Infidel) and therefore eligible for the viciousness that the Koran prescribes for him.

    India and Indians deserve to be treated with dignity IRRESPECTIVE of what the Koran or Hadith says. By bringing up the question of whether it should be interpreted in one way or another you have already accepted that such interpretations have any value.

    The basic premise is that we are living in the 21st century. And that means we have to leave behind such nonsensical Dar-ul-quandries behind. They have ZERO value in modern discourse. And yet we bring this up…. and it underscores the problem that Nitwit is addressing – i.e. Even educated and secular Indians cannot bring themselves to discard all this religious bullshit. Somehow we seem to grant it some legitimacy on our conversations.

    Would you ask if the Upanishads consider Christians or Jews to be Shudras or not? Why is that? The reason is that irrespective of whether the Upanishads or Vedas say such stuff, we in the 21st century are OBLIGED to accord each and every human-being certain basic dignity and rights.

    Getting old and archaic doctrines in the picture is not the way forward. On the contrary it confers legitimacy upon the Mullahs/Imams when they deserve none.

  5. April 14, 2009 11:18 pm

    Verses can be read to mean anything, literally, that you want, but I find that mohammedans are never willing to interpret them. Instead, they invariably say you must “consult the experts”, and fall back on the interpretation of some mullah or imam.

    So … islam is not what is written in the koran, it is what some authority figure SAYS is in the koran. And the authorities are generally terrorists or close to it.

    • nitwitnastik permalink*
      April 15, 2009 4:50 pm

      Yep you are right uzza. In fact I find not only muslims but hindus do the same thing. As if the “experts” have some magic wand which they can just wave and interpret the real meaning. Also have you noticed how an “expert” is anyone who interprets a verse supporting widely held beliefs and not someone who questions it. As if people who question the meaning of religious texts are fools who don’t understand the “real” meaning

      • April 15, 2009 6:23 pm

        ‘As if’ nuthin –they come right out and say we are fools. lol. But what bothers me is this: there ARE moderate Imam/mullahs out there whom I have no beef with–yet even the most peaceful muslims refer me to “experts” like Ayatollah Khomeini, or Sheek Qaradawi. wtf?

  6. Chirag Chamoli permalink
    April 15, 2009 1:48 am

    NN was a bit late this time, did read your Part 1, Part 2 and then 3 view on ‘Secular India’ and I too share them, I mean why do we have to fight at all, “over fiction characters and stories”. Though I am not hopeful about the BJP or Congress

    • nitwitnastik permalink*
      April 15, 2009 4:45 pm

      Chirag don’t worry 🙂 All of us are busy. In this economy being busy is a good thing i guess 🙂 My feed reader like you is overflowing. 😉

  7. Kaffir permalink
    April 15, 2009 11:08 am

    NN, you might want to spend some time and read this essay by Rajiv Malhotra. It is probably the closest to where I am coming from regarding my comments, and where I’m at now. I’m not a big fan of left/right labels and dichotomies, as both have their uses and pitfalls (and the behavior becomes predictable as people simply start repeating talking points of each ideology), and subscribing to one or the other is very limiting, in my experience.

  8. April 23, 2009 5:06 pm

    Pardon me if you already read this:

    Islam, Virgins and Grapes

    In Afghanistan, 300 brave women marched to demand a measure of equal rights, defying a furious mob of about 1,000 people who spat, threw stones and called the women “whores.” The marchers asserted that a woman should not need her husband’s consent to go to school or work outside the home.

    In Pakistan, the Taliban flogged a teenage girl in front of a crowd, as two men held her face down in the dirt. A video shows the girl, whose “crime” may have been to go out of her house alone, crying piteously that she will never break the rules again.

    Muslim fundamentalists damage Islam far more than any number of Danish cartoonists ever could, for it’s inevitably the extremists who capture the world’s attention. But there is the beginning of an intellectual reform movement in the Islamic world, and one window into this awakening was an international conference this week at the University of Notre Dame on the latest scholarship about the Koran.

    “We’re experiencing right now in Koranic studies a rise of interest analogous to the rise of critical Bible studies in the 19th century,” said Gabriel Said Reynolds, a Notre Dame professor and organizer of the conference.

    The Notre Dame conference probably could not have occurred in a Muslim country, for the rigorous application of historical analysis to the Koran is as controversial today in the Muslim world as its application to the Bible was in the 1800s. For some literal-minded Christians, it was traumatic to discover that the ending of the Gospel of Mark, describing encounters with the resurrected Jesus, is stylistically different from the rest of Mark and is widely regarded by scholars as a later addition.

    Likewise, Biblical scholars distressed the faithful by focusing on inconsistencies among the gospels. The Gospel of Matthew says that Judas hanged himself, while Acts describes him falling down in a field and dying; the Gospel of John disagrees with other gospels about whether the crucifixion occurred on Passover or the day before. For those who considered every word of the Bible literally God’s word, this kind of scholarship felt sacrilegious.

    Now those same discomfiting analytical tools are being applied to the Koran. At Notre Dame, scholars analyzed ancient texts of the Koran that show signs of writing that was erased and rewritten. Other scholars challenged traditional interpretations of the Koran such as the notion that some other person (perhaps Judas or Peter) was transformed to look like Jesus and crucified in his place, while Jesus himself escaped to heaven.

    One scholar at the Notre Dame conference, who uses the pseudonym Christoph Luxenberg for safety, has raised eyebrows and hackles by suggesting that the “houri” promised to martyrs when they reach Heaven doesn’t actually mean “virgin” after all. He argues that instead it means “grapes,” and since conceptions of paradise involved bounteous fruit, that might make sense. But suicide bombers presumably would be in for a disappointment if they reached the pearly gates and were presented 72 grapes.

    One of the scholars at the Notre Dame conference whom I particularly admire is Nasr Hamid Abu Zayd, an Egyptian Muslim who argues eloquently that if the Koran is interpreted sensibly in context then it carries a strong message of social justice and women’s rights.

    Dr. Abu Zayd’s own career underscores the challenges that scholars face in the Muslim world. When he declared that keeping slave girls and taxing non-Muslims were contrary to Islam, he infuriated conservative judges. An Egyptian court declared that he couldn’t be a real Muslim and thus divorced him from his wife (who, as a Muslim woman, was not eligible to be married to a non-Muslim). The couple fled to Europe, and Dr. Abu Zayd is helping the LibForAll Foundation, which promotes moderate interpretations throughout the Islamic world.

    “The Islamic reformation started as early as the 19th century,” notes Dr. Abu Zayd, and, of course, it has even earlier roots as well. One important school of Koranic scholarship, Mutazilism, held 1,000 years ago that the Koran need not be interpreted literally, and even today Iranian scholars are surprisingly open to critical scholarship and interpretations.

    If the Islamic world is going to enjoy a revival, if fundamentalists are to be tamed, if women are to be employed more productively, then moderate interpretations of the Koran will have to gain ascendancy. There are signs of that, including a brand of “feminist Islam” that cites verses and traditions suggesting that the Prophet Muhammad favored women’s rights.

    Professor Reynolds says that Muslim scholars have asked that conference papers be translated into Arabic so that they can get a broader hearing. If the great intellectual fires are reawakening within Islam, after centuries of torpor, then that will be the best weapon yet against extremism.

  9. May 1, 2009 10:13 am

    I think NN that we need to view even viewpoints that are Islamophobic for, they too give us a diff viewpoint so that we are able to understand where all the hate , anger and fear is coming from…just as weneed to see and read about Hinduphobic and insert a religion of your choice-phobic posts and videos…

    they all help us to see another side…I would much rather prefer to see both the sides..the one that considers their religion perfect and the one that considers ‘another’ religion disgusting…

    have loved all three posts on Islam …they have broadened my understanding…

    PS:-on another note..could you please give me
    link about Hinduism in a similar vein? 🙂

    • nitwitnastik permalink*
      May 2, 2009 7:17 am

      Yes i agree. Just because something is X-phobic does not mean we reject them. In fact, I have often watched and read homophobic videos/articles and tried to verify if there was any merit in their claims. Couldn’t find much except that homosexuality is a sin according to so and so book or that it is destroying our family values which again is not backed up by evidence

  10. May 1, 2009 10:14 am

    and I meant that we need to view them the way you are clearly doing 🙂

  11. May 1, 2009 10:23 am

    just saw your a few comments answered post where you have given links related to Hinduism as well…

    I am soo lagging behind in my reading…

    • nitwitnastik permalink*
      May 2, 2009 7:19 am

      Thats OK, I am lagging behind in a lot of my reading too. Take your time and I would be interested to know your thoughts too.

  12. ABHISHEK PANDIT permalink
    January 16, 2011 7:59 am



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