No God but God/A review(VII)

A continuation

Logical conclusions, and the ability of the author to convince the reader with his ideology:

Aslan said,“There are those who will call it (the book) apostasy, but that is not troubling. No one speaks for God- not even the prophet (who speaks about God). There are also those who will call it apology.” I would call it none of the above; the best description of it (the book) would be a shallow analysis and a limited vision. Unfortunately Aslan could not use his talents and well-equipped facilities to see the obvious, and the reason for that is best described by Daniel C. Dennett in his bestseller “Breaking the Spell”, “We may be too close to religion to be able to see it at first. This has been a familiar theme among artists and philosophers for years. One of their self-appointed task is to “make the familiar strange,” and some of the great strokes of creative genius get us to break through the crust of excessive familiarity and look at ordinary, obvious things with fresh eyes…the remarkable autistic author and animal expert Temple Grandin gave neurologist Oliver Sacks a great title for one of his collections of case studies of unusual human beings: An Anthropologist on Mars (1995). That’s what she felt like, she told Sacks, when dealing with other people right here on earth. Usually such alienation is a hindrance, but getting some distance from the ordinary world helps focus our attention on what is otherwise too obvious to notice, and it will help if we temporarily put ourselves into the (three bright green) shoes of a “Martian,” one of the team of alien investigators who can be imagined to be unfamiliar with the phenomena they are observing here on planet earth.”
This familiarity hindered Aslan’s ability to see the big picture. Islam is not the little detailed bits and pieces that he tried to glue together, it is a whole, complete system of life. And the core of this system is the family, upon which the whole system was built. Role designation of genders was built on the tribal system of the desert. And accordingly; the responsibilities and the rights of each individual in the society were drawn. And therefore, a huge chunk of the rules of Shareea were based on that principal. Now tampering with any aspect of Shareea is like pushing a tile of dominos on which many other tiles are dependant. And modernizing Islam to make it compatible with civil human rights would definitely demolish the bases of Shareea, and the essence of Islam. And here is my concern; would traditional Moslems of both major sects accept that? If that was easy, then Mutzalas who tried to do that centuries ago would have succeeded. And Islam would have had a difference face today.
Tampering with the rules of God calls for Jihad, and the fight will never stop. We can’t compare Islam with Christianity simply because the Bible was written over more than 1,500 years by vastly different writers, while Muslims believe that Quran is the direct word of God dictated to Muhammad. And if Christianity had to go through seas of blood to endorse reform, “protestant reform and Catholic intransigence, a violent body argument that engulfed Europe in devastation and war for more than a century”, then one can imagine what Islam has to go through with such reform.
As Daniel C. Dennett said in the same source above, “Now that we have created the technologies to cause global catastrophe, our jeopardy is multiplied to the maximum: a toxic religious mania could end human civilization overnight. We need to understand what makes religion work, so we can protect ourselves in an informed manner from the circumstances in which religion go haywire. What is religion composed of? How do the parts fit together? How do they mesh? Which effects depend on which causes? Which features, if any, invariably occur together? Which exclude each other? What constitutes the health and pathology of religious phenomena? These questions can be addressed by anthropology, psychology, history, and any other variety of cultural studies that you like, but it is simply inexcusable for researchers in these fields to let disciplinary jealousy and fear of “scientific imperialism” create an ideological iron curtain that could conceal important underlying constraints and opportunities from them,“ and this is exactly what I expected from Aslan; A thorough analysis independent of the background and devoid of prejudice. Islam’s main objective is to conquer the world, that is so obvious from all the Islamic sources, the prophet himself declared that he was Ordered by God to fight all, until the last person on earth say “no God but Allah, and Muhammad is his messenger.” And the situation is much more dangerous than to move in a circle of bloody wars that would only lead to mass destruction.
I expected from a learned person like Aslant to show that Islam is a philosophy and not a holy system from the above, since he himself does not believe in myths. For only when someone can educate the Muslim masses that this is the truth about Islam. Then, and only then, people would accept the reform and not take the scriptures literally without the fear of being punished hereafter.
Religion was part of our social evolution, it did its part of some reform in human history, and we should respect it, and place it in its rightful position in the past. But now mysteries are history, with the new age and science development, we know today a lot of things that we did not know before, and the circle of fear that engulfed us centuries before is diminishing today. It would be illogical and stupid to continue moving in the same circle when we know better today. And I believe that it’s the duty of any researcher or educator to enlighten the masses. For humanity has to move forward and not backward. The world is getting smaller, and each individual’s fate is becoming dependant on the actions of the other. One small mistake or stupidity could cost us all a dear price. (no points here)

And with this final conclusion, my overall rating for “No God but God” by Reza Aslan would be two stars out of five.

The End

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21 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. JayS
    Nov 16, 2007 @ 20:20:20

    An excellent analysis.

    What is your take on Aayan Hrisi Ali? I read an article on her on alternet. The link leads directly to a comment, which I hope you may be able to shed some light on.

    http://alternet.org/rights/66830/?comments=view&cID=768730&pID=768687#c768730

    Is it the general feeling among muslim women in the Middle East and N. Africa that she is doing greater damage that good for women’s rights.

    your insights would be much appreciated.

    i truly enjoy reading your blog.

    Reply

  2. white wings
    Nov 16, 2007 @ 22:40:32

    hi hon
    i am dropping in very quickly, excuse my hastiness..
    but did you hear of our demonstration?? details on mine, Alia’s and authoress’ blogs
    just wanted to let you know
    kisses

    Reply

  3. saeed
    Nov 17, 2007 @ 11:21:07

    Yes, Awesome analysis. It’s so great that in your final statement, you don’t even get the name of the author correct!!!

    “And with this final conclusion, my overall rating for “No God but God” by Hasan Aslan would be two stars out of five.”

    The Author’s name is Reza Aslan!

    http://www.amazon.com/No-god-but-God-Evolution/dp/1400062136

    Guess the rest of your analysis is equally accurate.

    Go figure!

    Reply

  4. harmonie22
    Nov 19, 2007 @ 01:42:40

    Ayya, I commend you. Brilliant argument and analysis.

    On a side note, I’m not quite at that point yet but I know that my grad thesis paper will be on Kuwaiti women writers; I want to put us on the academic / literary map too- there’s hardly any documentation out there on them.

    I consider you one of the talented ones (from your poetry to your fiction and to your studies) and would love to interview you when the time comes- psuedonym and all- and to include you in it. Would you be interested and willing?

    Reply

  5. AyyA
    Nov 19, 2007 @ 08:04:55

    JayS

    Thanks dear, and about Ayan Hrisi Ali, I already wrote a review of her book, you can find it under favorite books category.

    WW
    Hi sweetie, and yes I heard about the demo., but right now I am vacationing in Bangkok. I will give you a call when I get to Kuwait as I promissed.

    Reply

  6. AyyA
    Nov 19, 2007 @ 08:07:58

    Saeed
    It is really amazing how some of you guys have eyes to pick and point on trivialities, while you have nothing to say about the essence.

    Reply

  7. AyyA
    Nov 19, 2007 @ 08:14:06

    Harmo
    Thanks sweetheart, I really appriciate your offer, I think what you are doing is great and I will do anything to help. Thanks again dear.

    Reply

  8. saeed
    Nov 23, 2007 @ 08:17:04

    Ayya,

    Let’s start with the “trivialities”. You reviewed someone’s book. You clearly spent a lot of time writing your 7 part review. You started first review (https://3asal.wordpress.com/2007/10/22/no-god-but-god-a-review/)
    by referring to the author as “Riza Aslan”. You finished the seventh part of your review by referring to him as “Hasan Aslan”.

    [BTW, I noticed you have now changed his name in part 7 to “Riza Aslan”. ]

    Sorry, but even now, after having it pointed out to you, you still can’t spell his name correctly. His name is “Reza Aslan”. That’s what it says on the book, [http://www.amazon.com/No-god-but-God-Evolution/dp/1400062136], that’s what is says on Wikipedia [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Reza_Aslan] and that’s what it says on his website [http://www.rezaaslan.com]. If it is so trivial, then why spell it correctly. It’s clearly not a typo. Don’t you have the book in front of you to see how to spell his name. It’s a simple courtesy.
    And if you can’t spell the name of the author whose book you are reviewing correctly, what can be said about what you write about the contents of the book?

    I have read the book, have a copy of it on my bookshelf, and while I may not agree with 100% of everything he wrote — when would that ever be true of any history book — I can say that this is in fact one of the better written of the plethora of recent books on Islam and Islamic history. Not only is it engaging, but it flows well and explains events in context. It is not a heavy book linguistically but it is also not simplistic in language nor in analysis. It has been lauded by many reputable groups, and rightly so.

    So, having dealt with “trivialities”, let’s get to something not so trivial. You define in part 1 a 5 point system for grading the book.

    —–
    1. Honesty in presenting the Islamic history (2 points).
    2. The author’s literal ability to convey the message (2 points).
    3. Logical and objective analysis according to chronological events (2 points).
    4. Impartiality of the author to a religion, cult or sect (2 points).
    5. Logical conclusions, and the ability of the author to convince the reader with his ideology (2 points)
    ——

    Let’s apply that same system to you and your review.

    1. Honesty in presenting the Islamic history (2 points)

    Your presentation of Islamic history is incredibly selective and intellectually dishonest.

    In part 2 you say “Even his wife Aisha mocked him by saying “your God is quick to provide for your desires”.” And using this to support your premise that that slavery and polygamy were the desires of the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh).

    But you took the quote out of context. One full version of the hadith can be found here. http://tinyurl.com/2w4jnl

    Clearly the hadith is in the context of visiting his wives and not in the context of slaves or something lurid.

    Later you write:

    “Muhammad even married Rayhana Bint Zaid right after slaughtering her husband with the 700 Jews of Bano Qurayza….And also forgetting that all what Muhammad wanted from those Jews was conversion, if they had done that, none of the 700 Jews would have been brutally slaughtered.”

    Again, you are incredibly selective in your facts to the point of completely fabricating facts.

    The issue of the Banu Qurayza is well documented. In short, The Banu Qurayza, along with most of the other tribes, Muslim, Pagan and Jewish of Medina, agreed to a non-aggression and mutual defense treaty which has come to be known today as the Constitution of Medina. This constitution provided for “the security of the community, religious freedoms, the role of Medina as a haram or sacred place (barring all violence and weapons), the security of women, stable tribal relations within Medina, a tax system for supporting the community in time of conflict, parameters for exogenous political alliances, a system for granting protection of individuals, a judicial system for resolving disputes, and also regulated the paying of blood-wite (the payment between families or tribes for the slaying of an individual in lieu of lex talionis).” (Source: Wikipedia — http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Constitution_of_Medina)

    From the same page: “One of the constitution’s more interesting aspects was the inclusion of the Jewish tribes in the Ummah, the Jewish tribes were “one community with the believers,” but they “have their religion and the Muslims have theirs.”

    Now, had the Prophet wanted conversion of the Jews, he would not have agreed to freedom of religion in the Constitution. So, how disingenuous of you to write what you wrote and claim it as correct. Your clear biases make what you write unreliable and unbelievable.

    WRT to the Banu Qurayzah, the full details of the entire incident can be found here (http://www.bismikaallahuma.org/archives/2005/the-expulsion-of-banu-al-qurayzah/), but the short version is that after agreeing to Constitution, they broke the treaty by siding with the Meccans and other hostile parties during the Battle of the Trench (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_the_Trench)
    Even after being asked to reconsider, they did not change and put the entire city at risk. After the Medinan’s won the battle against the Meccans, the Banu Qurayza refused to surrender and be judged for their complicity with the Meccans. After a 25 day siege, they surrendered, and Sa’ad ibn Mu’adh, a member of the Aws tribe who were sympathetic to the Banu Qurayza was agreed to (by the Banu Qurayza) as the person who would pass judgement on them. And it was he, not the Prophet, who decided the punishment, to kill the “warriors” but spare the women and children. (http://tinyurl.com/yq4mfy)

    So as for your honest in presenting Islamic history — a big zero. I’d give you minus 1 for fabricating things but it’s your system, so zero it is.

    2. The author’s literal ability to convey the message (2 points).

    I’ll keep this one short. You are clearly not an uneducated person, and your writing is relatively clear, though I would not say you are up to Aslan’s level in terms of telling a story or conveying your points. I’ll give you a 1.

    3. Logical and objective analysis according to chronological events (2 points).

    Hmmm…logical? Possibly. Objective? Absolutely not. Your views come from a clear position of being anti-Islamic (perhaps anti-religion altogether). Your writings on Islam are polemics that in many parts are clearly based on personal biases and not on any kind of balanced view of the topic.

    For example, you wrote:

    “Muhammad could not tolerate any other religion, he wanted Islam to be the greatest empire on earth, like Alexander the Great’s or other great empires of his time, only his dream was much bigger; he wanted an Islamic dominion of the world .”

    This flies in the face of clear facts to the contrary. I know the out of context hadith you will cite to refute me, but take a look at the Quran, which as anyone who studies Islam knows, supercede’s any hadith that may contradict it. And even if you think that Muhammad made up the Quran (I’m not sure if you do or not), it includes lines that contradict your point.

    Surah 109 — The Disbelievers

    “I do not worship that which you worship and you do not worship that which I worship….To you your way and to me mine”

    http://www.usc.edu/dept/MSA/quran/109.qmt.html

    Or this verse Surah 46 verse 9:
    025.056 And We have sent thee (O Muhammad) only as a bearer of good tidings and a warner.

    There are literally dozens of similar verses where the Prophet is described as a “warner” and not someone who must compel anyone.

    Type “warner” in the search box on this page to see for yourself: http://www.usc.edu/dept/MSA/reference/searchquran.html

    And of course if Allah had wanted everyone to be Muslim, he could have done so himself couldn’t he?

    http://www.usc.edu/dept/MSA/quran/010.qmt.html#010.099
    And if thy Lord willed, all who are in the earth would have believed together. Wouldst thou (Muhammad) compel men until they are believers?

    So.. for Logical and objective analysis according to chronological events, I give you another zero.

    4. Impartiality of the author to a religion, cult or sect (2 points).

    This one is very easy. Zero points. Your impartiality or lack of it actually, is clear.

    Finally,

    5. Logical conclusions, and the ability of the author to convince the reader with his ideology (2 points)

    So, some overlap with the previous topics. While you do utilize logic, this is no guarantee that your conclusions are correct, because, fundamentally, your assumptions are biased and wrong.

    For example:

    “Quran is by no means egalitarian, it’s a system of life that spouses specific coded rules, and spiritual rituals are only one part of that system. A real Moslem is the one who takes the whole system, not only the parts that appeal to him. Therefore, Quran’s capability to be adopted anywhere, does not mean that one could alter its verses, but rather change the culture of that place to fit the verses. Exactly how it’s done in the West with Muslim communities. When people migrate, they take their culture of dress code, language and morals, of which all are elements of that religion, with them.”

    You write this as if the Quran is a rigid set of rule that must be adopted by those who are Muslims. Some facts. The Quran has over 6600 verses. Of those verses, less than 500 of them explicitly deal with rulings or legal issues. And even in those cases, with the exception of a very few of them (such as the verses on inheritance) most are of a general nature, such as those related to dietary issues or alcohol consumption etc.

    The vast majority of the Quran deals with history, or the hereafter or are prayers or other stories specifically related to issues happening around the Muslims at the times of revelation. Many of these are allegorical and in fact acultural and thus transferable across cultures.

    So, as for logical conclusions, I’ll be generous and give you a one. You do use logic, though in many cases based on faulty assumptions, due to your lack of impartiality on the topic.

    So, lets sum up the score:

    1. Honesty in presenting the Islamic history (0 points).
    2. The author’s literal ability to convey the message (1 point).
    3. Logical and objective analysis according to chronological events (0 points).
    4. Impartiality of the author to a religion, cult or sect (0 points).
    5. Logical conclusions, and the ability of the author to convince the reader with his ideology (1 point)

    So a grand total of 2 out of 10. Not very impressive I must say. I hope I’ve satisfied your requirement not to solely focus on “trivialities”.

    Peace.

    Reply

  9. soud13
    Nov 23, 2007 @ 12:32:21

    We need some one or some she 😉 to translate all your posts to Arabic like what u did in past with some of ma6goog posts

    Good luck and miss ya

    Reply

  10. BOSALE7
    Nov 24, 2007 @ 00:58:36

    ولهنا على مواضيعج الخفيفة
    الحقيقة كل ما ادش البلوج والقى موضوع طوله اطول من بن شرار الف فوق حدر وارجع مضاربي سالما 🙂

    طمنينا عنج
    تحياتي

    Reply

  11. راعيها
    Nov 24, 2007 @ 19:04:16

    I was planning to read your reply saeed … but I stopped when you tried to make a big deal about author`s name ! Hassan or Reza !! so what?? I am muslim but this mistake doesn’t mean anything to me …

    Ayya was talking about thoughts and believes … she wasn’t getting personal … I wish I can find somebody who can argue with her without making it personal …

    Ayya … I don’t agree with everything you said … maybe as you said I am (too close to see the whole picture) … but anyway … please accept my respect.

    Reply

  12. saeed
    Nov 24, 2007 @ 19:22:58

    Hello — sorry, don’t know your name as it is written in Arabic — but you posted on 11/24 at 7:04 PM

    I mentioned the problem with the name in an earlier comment. Ayya replied, calling it a triviality. If it were simply a one time mistake, i.e. a typo, that would have been understandable, but, if anyone is reviewing a book, getting the name wrong on multiple occasions — in this case both at the beginning and at the end — shows either a lack of knowledge or a lack of respect for the author.

    If it is so trivial, then why not spell it correctly? It’s clearly not a typo. It’s a simple courtesy.
    And if the reviewer can’t spell the name of the author whose book they are reviewing correctly, what can be said about what they write about the contents of the book?

    After the name issue, which I went into very specific points about the content of what Ayya wrote.

    Again, your choice whether to read that or not.

    Peace.

    Reply

  13. AyyA
    Dec 01, 2007 @ 10:15:24

    Saeed
    With all due respect to you, I think you are making a big deal of a name. “What’s in a name?” this reminds me of a piece of news I heard on CNN yesterday about a British teacher in Sudan who was convicted with insulting Islam for allowing her students to call a teddy bear Muhammad. How more pathetic could we get? In any case it was a mistake and I fixed it. And in no way I meant disrespect to the author. And if you want to dig in my blog, you’d see many typos and spelling mistakes that are unintentional. And no, I do not have the book with me, actually I wrote the last three parts out of some notes that I previously noted down about the book, right now I’m traveling across the globe.
    But your sensitivity to the issue does not surprise me at all, like me, you were programmed to your faith since birth, and you’d do anything to defend your religious conviction. Just like a lover cursed with blind love. But the difference between you and me is that I got over this love. There is no biasness in my case as you tried to convey, on the contrary, I am finally free of such prejudice. And what I am trying to do here is just to make you see the other side of the fence with a telescope.
    And as for being selective and out of historical context in my verses and traditions, yes, I am, and who isn’t? The stories mentioned in the scriptures are there for their moral values, and not bedtime stories. If we do not get the meaning behind them then may be we should reconsider our own understanding of our faith. Little Red Riding Hood in children’s fairytale was not told to show us how beautiful was Little Red Cap’s eyes; rather to teach little children to be ware of the dangers of what might otherwise seem innocent. Moreover; I did not write a book to be evaluated, nor I expected a doctorate for my evaluation. When I do that, then I would accept your evaluation wholeheartedly. And even then I would not accept it if it came biased and taken from one source: Quran. As you well know that if you were a student and were asked to do your research, you’d have to refer to at least four diverse sources, otherwise your research would not be credited. And all the sources that you are referring to go back to the one source I mentioned above. All Islamic history books, traditions, biographies go back to single source, as a matter of fact. Then how could you verify the credibility of this information to at least have a benchmark? What I am trying to do here is to provide a global vision, and through analyzing Aslan’s book I tried to pinpoint the misgivings in the Islamic religion that were smoke screened through our directed education. And all what I’m asking is just some consideration, we can’t be blindfolded when it comes to religion, it’s too dangerous. And those who call themselves moderates are even worse than the fundamentalists, because through them the fundamentalists find virgin soils to grow.
    Your comment is actually too long; I hope I did not miss any of your enquiries.

    Soud
    You need to practice your English more often, LOL
    Thanks sweetie, and I miss you more

    Bosale7
    All is OK bro, I’m not as close to the Net as much as I would like. But I promise that whenever I get back you’ll see lighter posts, missed you guys a lot.

    Ra3eeha
    Not many agree bro, and that’s not what I am asking for. I just present the other side of the story as I see it, and it’s your take after that. Respect is mutual, regardless of the difference in opinion. Cheers.

    Reply

  14. عتيج الصوف
    Dec 05, 2007 @ 18:10:56

    Reading your articles gives me the feeling enh we have so many creative thinkers or analysts !

    i really like what u write and keep the good work up 🙂

    Goddes are only myth…they use it to make people lost just like lil fish 1

    Reply

  15. bo9ali7
    Dec 05, 2007 @ 20:57:51

    مرة من زمان علقت عندج بطريقة غير لائقة
    ومثل ما كان تعليقي علني
    الان
    سأعتذر منك بشكل علني ايضا
    اعتذر عن سوء الفهم اللي صار

    Reply

  16. saeed
    Dec 06, 2007 @ 06:16:44

    Ayya,

    Thanks for the response. I do agree with you on a couple of points you wrote, but you have completely avoided providing any support for the various false and misleading statements you wrote. You took a lot of time and effort to write a seven part review, so reading it, one can’t assume this is simply a casual blog posting.

    But let me state the parts where I agree with you. The first, I did fixate too much on the name. I did find it shocking that you could write such a lengthy review with so much detail, yet still get his name wrong more than once, but that was not the focus of my response.

    The other point I agree with is that “we can’t be blindfolded when it comes to religion, it’s too dangerous. “. I agree absolutely, but that blindfold is not specifically reserved only for those on one side of the religious line.

    I’ve read far too many polemics AGAINST religion and particularly Islam by people who pick and choose very selectively and convey out of context, or completely fabricated things. Reading your blog I see some of the same patterns.

    Lines like “all what Muhammad wanted from those Jews was conversion, if they had done that, none of the 700 Jews would have been brutally slaughtered.” are not only patently false, but you say them as if they are fact. For those that read your blog, and read these kinds of statements, woven so deeply into your text, there is only one conclusion they can draw.

    You have the RIGHT to your opinion, but when you speak or write publicly, with that right comes the RESPONSIBILITY to be intellectually honest with your readers.

    Hiding behind a line like: “I did not write a book to be evaluated, nor I expected a doctorate for my evaluation. ” is a cop out. You have a public blog and you make controversial statements on it. If you only want praise for your postings, then moderate all the comments and only publish the ones that tell you how great your blog is.

    You responded to my first comment:

    “It is really amazing how some of you guys have eyes to pick and point on trivialities, while you have nothing to say about the essence”.

    Now that I responded to the essence, with fact and not simply opinion, you write it off as coming from someone who is “programmed”.

    I’ve seen this before with people like Robert Spence. Look up his books on Amazon.

    Perhaps you are also programmed. Have you considered that? Only your programming has skewed your views so that you view all things associated with religion as negative.

    For those who harp about the evils of religion, I always like to ask the following question:

    If all religion were to disappear tomorrow, would there suddenly be world peace and harmony? The answer is clearly no. We saw this with Communism. No god there, but violence, extremism, persecution, corruption etc. were all present.

    The problem is not religion, but it is humanity and human nature. Whether religion, skin colour, nationality, language, geography, economic status, tribalism etc. people find ways to divide themselves, and base desires (greed, lust, envy, want of power/wealth etc.) are the root cause of these problems we see.

    Once you understand that, you can claim to be truly deprogrammed.

    Reply

  17. AyyA
    Dec 06, 2007 @ 14:42:24

    3ateej Elsoof
    Thanks bro. and I’m really pleased to know that there are some out there who can still think logically, regardless of the on-going brainwash that we are constantly exposed to.

    Bo9ali7
    بصراحه لا اعلم ما تتكلم عنه و لا اتذكر متي علقت بطريقه غير لائقه. و علي العموم آنا اتقبل إعتذارك فهذه شهامه منك.
    🙂

    Saeed
    “Lines like “all what Muhammad wanted from those Jews was conversion, if they had done that, none of the 700 Jews would have been brutally slaughtered.” are not only patently false, but you say them as if they are fact.”
    On what bases did you assume that the above mention statement is false? From Wikipedia, “As their morale waned, Ka’b ibn Asad (Banu Qorayza’s chief) suggested three alternative ways out of their predicament: embrace Islam, kill their own children and women, then rush out for a charge to either win or die; or make a surprise attack on the Sabbath. The Banu Qurayza accepted none of these alternatives”. If conversion to Islam was not a definite way to save their skin, then why would Banu Qurayza’s chief list it as one of the alternatives. Moreover; let me remind you of the tradition of Muhammad that says” it is not permitted for a Muslim to kill a another Muslim when he declares: no God but Allah and I am the prophet of Allah except in these three cases: the elderly who commits adultery, and that who takes the life of another human being, and the apostate who renounces his religion and abandons the community. Moslem”(my translation). And as you know the mere utterance of the above is enough for a man to be, or become a Muslim. And another tradition that says,” the Muslim is the brother of the Muslim, he should not treat him unjustly, nor put him down or belittle him by mockery. All of the Muslim is forbidden on another Muslim: his blood, his honor and his money. Bukhari and Muslim” (my translation). And many more that you could check for yourself.

    “For those who harp about the evils of religion, I always like to ask the following question:
    If all religion were to disappear tomorrow, would there suddenly be world peace and harmony? The answer is clearly no. We saw this with Communism. No god there, but violence, extremism, persecution, corruption etc. were all present.”
    How can you make this claim when history, as far as we know, was never devoid of religion? But generally speaking, I could partially agree with your assessment; greed, aversion and desire are human’s animalistic traits, yet, none of those traits are strong enough to make human beings act collectively against their humanistic natures as much as a religious convection can. Would suicide bombers kill themselves if they did not have a guarantee for a better life hereafter? Would their mothers ululate cheerfully for their deaths and receive greetings from their neighbors? And please do not jump to Kamikaze fighter’s example since their strong convection to their own religious beliefs was also a drive.
    As for communism; it is another religion albeit Godless. Yet, it was never strong enough like godhead, or organized religions, and the evidence is that it did not last long compared to those religions.

    Reply

  18. saeed
    Dec 08, 2007 @ 11:53:07

    Ayya,

    You ask, about the predicament of the Banu Qurayza…and why your statement “all what Muhammad wanted from those Jews was conversion, if they had done that, none of the 700 Jews would have been brutally slaughtered.” is patently false.

    It is patently false, because what was desired by the Medinans (Muslim and non-Muslim tribes), not simply the Prophet, was justice for the treachery and treason of the Banu Qurayza.
    There were other Jewish tribes who did not break the treaty and there was no implication on them. This was not a Jewish/Muslim issue, but one of treason against the other members of the city state.

    They willingly broke the Constitution of Medina which granted all mutual protection, freedom of religion etc. They refused all attempts to change their position and even after the battle, when their side lost, they refused to be judged.

    As your quote from Wikipedia starts: “As their morale waned…”, indicates that they were becoming desperate and looking for options. One option was to become Muslim, and thereby be spared. This was NOT a demand put on them by anyone, but an option that they could consider given the circumstances.

    They finally surrendered and were judged by someone from an allied tribe of their choosing.

    So your statement is patently false because conversion was NOT what was demanded of them by Muhammad or anyone else.

    If you care to look, you’ll see that sedition and treason, up to this day are crimes that in many countries still hold the death penalty or if a country does not support the death penalty, death, then most severe of punishments that are meted out.

    Instead of trying to twist facts to make your point, be intellectually honest about it.

    As for your line “I could partially agree with your assessment; greed, aversion and desire are human’s animalistic traits, yet, none of those traits are strong enough to make human beings act collectively against their humanistic natures as much as a religious convection can.”

    Again patently false.

    Take the blindfold off please. There is much savagery that has nothing to do with religion. Take a real look at history… The massacres in Rwanda, the killing fields of Cambodia, the subjugation and persecution of the Chinese by the Japanese before WWII to name a few were brutality at their worst, and none of these were religiously motivated. And this is only the 20th century.

    As for your question about suicide bombers, again, your blindfold is showing. Suicide attacks have been something that existed throughout history in many cultures. More recently the Tamils have used suicide attacks against their enemies. They pioneered the suicide vest in fact.

    Suicide attacks are used because in assymetric warfare, the less well armed party has fewer options for attack and suicide attacks can be very effective. Rajiv Ghandi was killed by a female Tamil suicide bomber for example.

    The motivation of people varies. Some do it out of despair, some out of commitment to their cause, some out of religious ferver, some because of coercion etc. From an Islamic perspective, these suicide attacks are a very recent phenomenon and thus are not something that is entrenched in the religion and while some Muslims feel them justifiable, the majority do not.

    Read the following article to get a rounded picture of this topic.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Suicide_bomber

    As for you final line about Communism being yet another religion…well, that sums it all up. From your view then, any set of beliefs is a religion. Secularism must be a religion then, albeit somewhat Godless as well.

    So, if that is the case, your whole thesis crumbles, because you’ve clearly redefined the word religion and it has nothing to do with Muhammad (pbuh) or Islam or Christianity or anything else “religious”. Democracy is then a religion, as is Socialism, Fascism, and any other “ism” or similar societal structure. Thus only those who believe in nothing are truly unprogrammed by your definitions.

    Sorry, but suddenly there is little credibility in any your arguments.

    Reply

  19. AyyA
    Dec 09, 2007 @ 00:55:34

    Saeed
    I appreciate your debate here, although I detest your provocative lines, which are directed to personally degrade your opponent. We are two mature civilized human beings that differ in our opinion, whether we agree on a subject or disagree; this should not call for disrespect. Lines like “Instead of trying to twist facts to make your point, be intellectually honest about it.” and “Sorry, but suddenly there is little credibility in any your arguments.” Were not necessary.
    Now to the debate:
    I think we debated about Banu Qurayza enough that I have nothing more to add except that the version you are adabting is the Islamist version. There is no historical evidences that Banu Qurayza were involved in The Constitution of Medina, or a treason . And the first who mentioned it was Ibn Ishaq (704-764), and this is what wikipedia has to say about Ibn Ishaq “Ibn Ishaq wrote several works, none of which survive. His collection of traditions about the life of Muhammad survives mainly in two sources: an edited copy, or recension, of his work by his student al-Bakka’i, as further edited by Ibn Hisham. Al-Bakka’i’s work has perished and only Ibn Hisham’s has survived, in copies. (Donner 1998, p. 132), and an edited copy, or recension, prepared by his student Salama ibn-Fadl al-Ansari. This also has perished, and survives only in the copious extracts to be found in the volumimous historian al-Tabari’s. (Donner 1998, p. 132). You can find the rest of the article here.
    Ibn Hisham edited the biography of Muhammad on the year 833AD, and al-Tabari lived in (838-923)AD. And as you well know that Banu Qurayza’s massacre happened right after the Battle of the Trench on 627AD. Which leaves 200 years of verbal transmission of the story. This fact made many scholars believe that the cause of the massacre was invented later by Muslims to justify the brutality of the massacre. And I wonder if you noticed the tilted scale of Wikipedia on this article indicating that the neutrality of the wording of the article is disputed.

    “The massacres in Rwanda, the killing fields of Cambodia, the subjugation and persecution of the Chinese by the Japanese before WWII to name a few were brutality at their worst, and none of these were religiously motivated.”
    Now who is selective? Anyhow, religion may not be the direct cause of some conflicts, but any war either directly or indirectly related to religions were always justifiable.

    As for suicide bombers, I’d leave the analysis of cause and history to the experts, check these video clips please:
    The AAI2007
    Andy Thomson


    “As for you final line about Communism being yet another religion…well, that sums it all up. From your view then, any set of beliefs is a religion. Secularism must be a religion then, albeit somewhat Godless as well.”

    From Answers. Com, these are three definitions, please pick the one that does not belong to the group:

    *Religion:
    1.
    1-Belief in and reverence for a supernatural power or powers regarded as creator and governor of the universe.
    2-A personal or institutionalized system grounded in such belief and worship.
    2. The life or condition of a person in a religious order.
    3. A set of beliefs, values, and practices based on the teachings of a spiritual leader.
    4. A cause, principle, or activity pursued with zeal or conscientious devotion.

    *Communism:
    1. A theoretical economic system characterized by the collective ownership of property and by the organization of labor for the common advantage of all members.
    2.
    1- A system of government in which the state plans and controls the economy and a single, often authoritarian party holds power, claiming to make progress toward a higher social order in which all goods are equally shared by the people.
    2- The Marxist-Leninist version of Communist doctrine that advocates the overthrow of capitalism by the revolution of the proletariat.

    *Secularism:
    1. Religious skepticism or indifference.
    2. The view that religious considerations should be excluded from civil affairs or public education.

    Now, I hope you got the picture.

    Reply

  20. saeed
    Dec 29, 2007 @ 09:41:51

    Ayya,

    So, it’s been a while. Finally found some spare time to view the videos you referenced on YouTube.

    You provided these links, I’m assuming, in response to my criticism of your statement:

    > >>greed, aversion and desire are human’s animalistic traits, yet, none of those traits are strong enough to make human beings act collectively against their humanistic natures as much as a religious convection can. Would suicide bombers kill themselves if they did not have a guarantee for a better life hereafter?<<<

    The context of the talks is to a group of secular humanists, and with Richard Dawkins, I believe, giving the introduction for the speaker. Of course, Dawkins is recently famous for his book “The God Delusion”, so it was with a bit of skepticism that I watched the speaker. The speaker did surprise me though. He started out talking a bit about the history of suicidal violence. Curiously he started about 2000 years ago with Jewish tribes, jumped 1000 years to the Hashishin, then jumped another 1000 years to the 20th century, with the the Japanese in WWII, and then talking about the Tamil separatists and the various Hamas/Hezbollah etc. attacks, particularly focussing on the suicide attack against the US marine barracks in Lebanon.. In short, the widespread use of suicide attacks is a 20th century phenomenon.

    For the full first segment, and the half of the second, the speaker made a pretty good argument about the innate ability of humans to commit horrendous acts of violence, tying in genetic theory of the behaviour of apes, psychology of group-think etc. He also gave a good description of reasons why people would commit suicide. For women, it was primarily the feeling of worthlessness, through social or personal issues.

    Women who were raped or rejected or otherwise felt unworthy of continuing their existence, tied into societal structure where they would want to lash out against their real or perceived enemy. For men, the issues are different, but are tied into the sacrifice for the “band of brothers” psychology, that is evident in many places, including sports teams, the military etc. Again, he tied it into genetic makeup, showing an example of the Australian social spider (I believe) whose young eat their mother at birth. Now how one can associate the behaviour of a specific species of spider in a specific environment and the overall psychology of humans is quite a stretch, but he was trying to make a point.

    That point being that a combination of genetic wiring to inflict violence, group psychologies, external social stigmas and feelings of power or victimhood can combine to cause people to commit suicide attacks on others. The group psychology issue is key. These are rarely, if ever, lone attacks. There are groups of people who convince the suicide attackers to commit the acts. In short, people prey on those disillusioned with life (for women), or the group sacrifice psychology (take one for the team) for men, to make them commit those acts. They have them make public (usually video) statements committing themselves to do the job. Again, a psychological tactic.

    All of these tactics are used in many scenarios that have nothing to do with suicide attacks. As mentioned earlier, these are used in the military – band of brothers — in sports — take one for the team — and in other social environments. There is nothing specific about this to religion for that matter.

    Now, halfway though the second video, he puts aside all that he has just said about genetics, inate violent characteristics, etc. and starts pandering to the secular humanist audience, and attacking religion as hijacking cognitive mechanisms to cause people to commit heinous acts. He later falls into using the hackneyed statement, which is disproven by any intellectually honest examination of history — that Islam was spread by the sword. He ends though with a clear statement about his biases.

    “Religion is a man-made phenomenon, a dangerous man-made phenomenon, that because of it’s very design, is the most powerful ideology that can hijack these capacities for lethal raiding, murder and suicide.”

    So, after 45 minutes of relatively good and relatively unbiased analyses of the topic, he falls into the same old line, unsubstantiated blather about the evils of religion.

    If he had been consistent and said, that religious dogma CAN be used to take control of people, as can other systems, it would have been intellectually honest.

    While the speaker did mention the Tamil suicide attacks, he didn’t spend much time on them. Interesting, because, unlike what the “religious” suicide bombers are claimed to be motivated by — promises of paradise, religious doctrine, zeal etc. — the Tamil suicide bombers are very different. And the reality is, if one wants to understand suicide terrorism, one needs to understand the nature of struggles in the latter half of the 20th century, and analyse concepts such as assymetrical warfare, the politics of terror, the social impact of terror. These are topics that that require focus and thoughtfulness, and not jingoism. Remember Donald Rumsfeld’s line about “shock and awe” against the Iraqis. That was solely about inflicting terror on them. The Tamils have, without specific religious focus, used suicide bombings frequently and to much effect. See the following page. http://www.spur.asn.au/chronology_of_suicide_bomb_attacks_by_Tamil_Tigers_in_sri_Lanka.htm

    For a somewhat more logical and less rhetorical talk about the drivers for suicide terrorism, you may want to listen to: http://www.svik.org/sound/chalk.mp3
    There is an associated ppt here: http://www.spur.asn.au/WAPS_Oslo_Conference_Suicide_Terrorism_by_Peter_Chalk.pdf

    Saeed

    Reply

  21. saeed
    Dec 29, 2007 @ 09:43:12

    Reply

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