Exploring Islam: Apparently it's Really a Force for Fairness, Equality and Women's Liberation

I note with a mixture of interest, amusement and horror that a new charity has been set up in London to 'tackle people's negative views of Islam.'

The Exploring Islam Foundation commissioned a YouGov poll to assess public opinion of a few very weighted questions about Islam. Apparently 58% of respondents equated Islam with extremism, 50% with terrorism, only 13% agreed that Islam was a religion of peace, and 19% thought that Islam had a positive impact on British society.

Really? 19%? That's a bit high isn't it?

It's OK though - as one report reveals, more than 57% of these respondents admitted to only getting their information about Islam through media outlets such as newspapers and television, which are obviously hostile to the religion of peace. Doubtless had they learned about Islam from their local Imam, they would have formed a much more positive opinion of it.

The Charity has commissioned what amounts to a PR campaign, to promote a better understanding of the positive side of Islam, and have produced a series of posters including prominent British Muslims pictured with heart-warming slogans.

OK, so I know I'm a total cynic, but a comic could not have asked for a better set of slogans to rip the piss out of. In fact a good comic probably wrote them. The slogans read:

“I believe in social justice. So did Muhammad.”

“I believe in women’s rights. So did Muhammad.”

“I believe in protecting the environment. So did Muhammad.”

Ideas about what constitutes social justice have (thankfully) changed a little in the last 1400 years - at least outside the middle east - and no longer include eye-for-an-eye style punishments. On a more positive note, they may be referring to the charitable provisions enshrined in Islamic law, whereby men must give up a percentage of their income as charity, to be distributed amongst the poor. Why proponents of Islam can't see the difference between wanting to help the poor (voluntarily giving up your earnings) and being forced to do so on pain of eternal damnation is beyond me.

So too have Women's rights - again outside the middle east. It is no longer acceptable to beat the shit out of any of your wives, buy a wife, marry a nine year old girl, sell your daughter off to your cousin for a few goats, or have your daughter's external genitalia cut off with a sharpened stone, in order to preserve her purity and dignity. Of course, I'm being a little unfair - none of these things happen in Britain today, right? Any thug of any religion or none is capable of beating his wife, it just happens that in the Koran and Hadith you have instructions telling you when and how it is acceptable to beat your wife. Little girls get sent abroad to have their labia cut off, we wouldn't dream of allowing that kind of thing here. And goats are no longer in fashion.

What Muhammad knew about the environment could be written down on the back of a postage stamp. Any suggestion that an illiterate merchant who died 1400 years ago had ideas to save our planet in today's world are beyond laughable.

If I had enough funds, a large security force and could be guaranteed immunity from prosecution under the laws pertaining to causing religious offence, I might be tempted to run a counter-campaign thusly:

"I believe in murderous conquest and forced conversion of the infidels. So did Muhammad (peace be upon him)."

"I believe in marrying nine year old girls and raping them whenever I choose. So did Muhammad (peace be upon him)."

"I believe my wives and daughters are my property. So did Muhammad (peace be upon him)."

Offensive? Probably. True? Read your Koran. Read the Hadith, then tell me I'm wrong.

The point of the Exploring Islam Foundation campaign is to prevent hostility toward British Muslims. What they either don't see, or prefer to fudge for political advantage, is that it is not people that are disliked - generally speaking - but the ideas and beliefs they stand for, uphold, and insist are the only acceptable ideas around.

How could anyone not brought up from his/her mothers knee to believe that Islam is true possibly look at Islam and say 'hmm, now there's a system of peace, justice and respect for humanity and the environment I could really buy into'?

Viewed even half-way objectively, Islam is a truly horrifying prospect.

We often hear and read the phrase 'Islamophobic' used pejoratively against the mindless cretins who deface mosques, assualt Muslims or otherwise make total dicks of themselves in the name of ignorance. This word is generally bandied about by people who have some advantage in drawing genuine criticism away from themselves by branding all potential critics - reasonable or otherwise - as basically motivated by the same prejudice. The use of this word and others like it bear a striking similarity to such words as 'anti-semitic' so beloved of that small minority of messianic bulldozer-friendly Jews. 

The argument is a simple one, which is probably why it is so popular in religious circles, and goes a bit like this:

"I cannot be doing anything wrong, because you are prejudiced and just hate me. Therefore anything I do must be right, because you are a nasty bigot. Anyone who agrees with you in any particular is therefore also a nasty bigot, so their opinion must be discounted too. Ergo, I'm right, anyone who disagrees is an evil hate-filled bigot."

The original meaning of the suffix -phobe is fear, not hatred. By all means call me an Islamophobe if you mean it in the sense 'scared of Islam' - I am terrified of it. But don't just write off anybody who can't see Islam's divine truth as an Islamophobe, for the word becomes meaningless.

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T.L. Winslow (TLW) said...

Western atheists are sadly ignorant of the the historical threat of Islam and the danger of a resurgence. Study Islam's history free online with the Historyscoper and arm your mind to deal with current events at http://go.to/islamhistory

Anonymous said...

For someone who cannot even articulate a justified form of ethical criteria, it strikes me as hypocritical to criticise ethics of others. No doubt Muslims look at our ethics with disgust - how we treat the old, killing of life in the womb, casual sexual relations, pornography, poverty in the world's richest capital etc

Other basic facts you seem to have got wrong - when a womwn consents to sex and it is contractually documented it is not termed rape! However much you dislike the idea!

Dave said...

'Our' ethics, anonymous? What are yours? I care not for Muslims who regard my ethics as wrong, for however bad some of them may be, at least I do not derive them from a bronze-age story book.

Besides which, at no point in this article did I ever mention my own ethical position, and a quick glance at my stats tells me that you have not looked at any other posts here to find out what my morals, mores and ethics might be, so at the risk of sounding a little rude, what the fuck do you know about my ethics, laughing boy? (Or girl, but given your next statement I doubt it).

Secondly, is a nine year old girl in a position to consent to marriage, or sex? Is a woman who is forced by her father into an arranged marriage with a man she does not love consenting to anything at all? What you seem to be saying is that there is no such thing as rape inside a marriage, which is the same as saying a woman is obliged to have sex with her husband whenever he chooses, whether she wants to or not, but we can't (by your argument) call this rape because it is contractually documented.

Whether you wish to 'term' this rape is your affair - the law is quite clear. So, if this is your idea of ethics, you can stick it up your arse pal, however much you may like the idea.