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Reform movements - UK
Muhammad getting his leg over
Parts of the Koran (and Hadith) are blatent attempts to justify Muhammad's sexual activities!
Islam is toxic. When present in small numbers of people it contaminates their minds. When present in sufficient numbers, it additionally poses national, regional, or global threats. It seeks to protect itself from criticism by threats and acts of violence, special pleading, and by creating laws in its favour.
Muhammad was an unenlightened delusional warmonger with a medieval attitude towards women. Islam treats him as an exemplar to be emulated, based on the Koran (or Qur'an), his (supposed) "recital", and the Hadith, his (supposed) sayings and behaviour. This worldview, identified by the Koran and Hadith, is incompatible with Universal Human Rights and incompatible with the 21st Century. Yet criticism and reform are resisted with threats, and often with violence and death.
Islam competes with the Roman Catholic Church as the world's most objectionable religious influence. (If I were given the choice of eliminating the influence of Islam or eliminating the influence of the Roman Catholic Church, whichever I chose I would feel guilty afterward for not choosing the other).
Articles about Islam on this web site
Articles from Child Support Analysis
The following articles were originally published in the Child Support Analysis web site:
(They were the result of investigating child support and related topics, such as paternity testing and human rights, in Islamic cultures. That web site is frozen, but these pages are evolving. They contain many external links).
I have investigated various aspects of Islam. These articles document my conclusions.
I have read the Koran and key parts of the Haddith in English translation. When I read the Koran, I knew a billion people believed that it was a copy of a book in heaven. I wondered what such a book must be like?
The Koran is a shambles! It is incomplete, contradictory, ambiguous, and dependent on esoteric interpretation.
Summary of Islam
Islam is a way of life. The best way of judging it is "in its natural state", where there is the maximum opportunity for the community of Muslims to adopt their own way of life, and minimum interferences from non-Islamic influences. This typically means at least some of the Islamic states.
Islam "in its natural state" is currently at best medieval, (for example, its typical attitude towards science), and at worst intolerant and barbaric, (for example, various aspects of Sharia (Law) including attitude towards women, intolerance towards other religions, and immature and exaggerated reactions to criticism).
This isn't a "Clash of Civilisations" - Islam "in its natural state" isn't yet civilised. This is a "Clash of Eras" - the 1st millennium CE (Islam) versus the 3rd millennium CE ("the West"). Islam has not undergone its own "Enlightenment", and in general appears unable to do so. Christianity has had hundreds of years to adapt itself to modernity while Islam has had modernity thrust upon it.
Individual Muslims may be far more enlightened than Islam itself, of course! This is potentially true where they are integrated tiny minorities in non-Islamic states, and are free to cherry-pick the less medieval, intolerant and barbaric bits.
Is Islam a "Religion of Peace"?
No. But verses can be cherry-picked to make it superficially appear to be.
(The claim "Islam is a religion of peace" means "if everyone becomes Muslim, they will become peaceful with one-another". But even that isn't true).
Islam is a combination of a religion and a political manifesto
Using UK terminology, this remainder includes: Criminal Justice (rules of evidence, penalties); Financial Services (interest); Education (emphasis on the Koran); Human Rights (rights or otherwise of women, rights or otherwise of free speech, apostasy & rights or otherwise of religion); Foreign Relations (objectives for a global Islamic state, treaties); etc. These are topics of a political manifesto.
Islam is complicated, incomplete, contradictory, and ambiguous
Just read the Koran - it speaks for itself! It wasn't collected together until decades after Muhammad died, (even assuming he ever existed), and it appears that even if he finished reciting it, much got lost in the collection. (Rival versions of the Koran were then destroyed to give the illusion of agreement). The haddith were not collected until centuries later. Much of the Koran was written in a form of incomplete arabic script and so needs interpretation of context. There is evidence of textual development after Muhammad's death.
Abrogation results in chronologically-later parts of the Koran superseding chronologically-earler parts. The early parts tend to be more benign, because they arose when Muhammed had few supporters and less military power. They are therefore convenient for "cherry picking", because they show a side of Islam which is more acceptable to enlightened people. But according to abrogation, which is accepted by typical Islamic scholars, those benign early parts do not apply!
Islam has no "central authority"
There is no authority such as the equivalent of a papacy that can conclusively decide whether Islam is a religion of peace or provides a justification of war. Part of the problem is the Shia / Sunni split, but there are regional and other factors too.
Islam requires interpretation, and interpreters have their own agendas
The reasons are given above. It is easy to find contradictory interpretations, and there is disagreement about how to use abrogation to deal with contradictions. Some say abrogation is a lie, while others justify it.
Islam is dependent on culture and environment
There are obvious constraints on the degree to which Muslims can exploit the political manifesto, especially within non-Islamic states. But much also depends on whether the population is predominantly Shia or Sunni, and which scholars have had most influence. (See also Muslim sects and Ahmadi).
Islam has reform movements, typically subject to death-threats
It is par for the course for Muslims who propose Islamic reform to receive death threats! Nevertheless, it is important for many Muslims to be able to practise Islam without the medieval and barbaric aspects, so many Muslims want to make Islam fit for the 21st Century. Some links are provided on the right.
Islam has to be cherry-picked
Given the contradictions and incomprehensibility, it is impossible to conform to 100% of the Koran and the haddith. It is typically possible to identify material to support any viewpoint from "Islam is a religion of peace and tolerance" to "Islam is a movement for jihad that can only be satisfied with a global Islamic state".
Islam has some unambiguously nasty bits
Some things are hard to deny: if they don't convert, slay the pagans (Sura 9 verse 5). And see "What does the Religion of Peace Teach About Violence".
And: in certain circumstances, beat your wife (Sura 4 verse 34). Some translations:
"beat": Asad; Fakhry; Dawood; Maududi; Shakir; Sher Ali; Salahi and Shamis, Muslim translators of Sayyid Qutb; Committee of Muslim translators of Ibn Kathir.
"beat (lightly)": Hilali and Khan; Yusufali.
"chastise": Maulana; Khan; Khalifa.
Many muslims have the stance "if you criticise Islam we will commit violence or even kill you"
Sam Harris (here and here):
"The position of the Muslim community in the face of all provocations seems to be: Islam is a religion of peace, and if you say that it isn’t, we will kill you. Of course, the truth is often more nuanced, but this is about as nuanced as it ever gets: Islam is a religion of peace, and if you say that it isn’t, we peaceful Muslims cannot be held responsible for what our less peaceful brothers and sisters do. When they burn your embassies or kidnap and slaughter your journalists, know that we will hold you primarily responsible and will spend the bulk of our energies criticizing you for “racism” and “Islamophobia.”
Islam is a threat to many in the medium and long term. At the moment, the following may be true, and shows that in principle Muslims themselves should seek solutions:
- Most of the people who suffer from Islam are Muslims.
- Most Muslims suffer from Islam. (Take into account women, and the effects of antipathy to science, etc).
- Most of the people killed by Muslims are Muslims.
- Most of the people who kill Muslims are Muslims.
Attitudes to apostasy are dictated by the Hadith rather than the Koran. The Hadith al-Bukhari is considered by Sunnis to be the most reliable, (and is refered to as Sahih al-Bukhari, meaning "authentic").
"The blood of a Muslim who confesses that none has the right to be worshipped but Allah and that I am His Apostle, cannot be shed except in three cases:...for murder; a married person who commits illegal sexual intercourse; and the one who reverts from Islam..."
"Some Zanadiqa were brought to 'Ali and he burnt them. The news of this event, reached Ibn 'Abbas who said, "If I had been in his place, I would not have burnt them, as Allah's Apostle forbade it, saying, 'Do not punish anybody with Allah's punishment [fire].' I would have killed them according to the statement of Allah's Apostle, 'Whoever changed his Islamic religion, then kill him.'"
Living in denial
Islam has to be reformed from within. But too many Muslims deny that Islam itself is a contributor. Here is a quote (a response to me on YouTube, in fact):
Problems are not caused by Islam. Problems are caused by people misinterpreting the real teaching of Islam and the Qur'an and only reading partial Qur'anic verses without reading ahead ones. That is the problem and not mainstream Islam.
That does nothing to help solve the problems. My response was:
Muslims contradict one-another about what Islam says. There appears to be no way of resolving such conflicts and causing Muslims to converge on a problem-free vision. Some people who criticise problems in Islam receive death-threats. How can these problems be eliminated, rather than excused?
We all await answers to such questions. An organisation representing British Muslims, Islam-is-Peace, is also in denial.
Is it a conspiracy?
Islam is an ongoing problem, with no signs that the problems it poses to the non-Islamic world will lessen in the near future. Some believe that this is because of a deliberate plan to cause problems then take over. In other words, there is an "intelligent design" behind the problems. I disagree: the fundamental problem is the nature of Islam, not some modern-day organisation causing trouble. There are problematic organisations, such as Hizb ut-Tahrir and the Muslim Brotherhood, but they are not the cause of all the problems. I believe, in fact, they are a symptom of the core problem. (The Organization of the Islamic Conference can act to further the ends of Islamic states, but this too is largely a symptom. Why do the individual states, sometimes enemies of one-another, identify with one-another?)
I believe instead that these problems are largely a result of relatively blind forces working on raw material that has these problems built into it. Islam is defined in such a way that problems will arise because of human nature. Islam provides a basis for lots of agendas, because it is medieval, often barbaric, incoherent, incomplete, and needs interpretation. It doesn't have anything like a papacy either to organise trouble or to impose enlightenment. This may actually make the problem worse: there is no one to negotiate with or render harmless.
(Consider an analogy: bird flu may do dreadful harm. But it has no plan nor conspiracy and no intelligent designer. It has raw material being processed by blind forces).
Some facts combine to make "blind trouble". What is important is that they are potent memes, within the "Islam" memeplex.
- The claim that the Koran is a recital of a book in heaven.
So the Koran must be taken literally, although it needs interpretation. In that sense, it is equivalent to the way the Bible is taken literally by Christian and Muslim Creationists, who are particularly dogmatic in their beliefs.
- The claim that Muhammad is the last prophet.
So the original understanding of Islam is likely to continue to be resistant to change. Also, Islam is considered to be superior to Judaism and Christianity, because it is a correction and update to these.
- The fact that Muhammad was a warrior chief.
So conquest and conversion are inherent in Islam. In fact, sura 9, one of the more violent parts of the Koran, was one of the last parts, and so is typically considered to abrogate others that it contradicts.
- The group identity of Muslims, the Ummah.
Muslims have an affinity, even overriding ideological differences, for example Shia versus Sunni. It is common for Muslims in (say) the UK to identify with Muslims in distant nations, and state that they are concerned about problems of the latter Muslims. Sometimes the implication is that this is a problem that the UK needs to address to ensure satisfactory relations within the UK.
Some Muslims have an agenda to exploit these memes as far as they can. We are seeing a process of natural selection - opportunist incremental changes based on what works at the moment. They try lots of things, some work, some won't.