Mehdi Hasan destroys Islam. He doesn’t mean to, but as he thinks he’s distancing Islam from ISIS he picks so many reasons for rejecting Islam. Good job, Mehdi.
In this online CNN video, Does ISIS have any religious legitimacy?, Mehdi Hasan debates with Graeme Wood over Wood’s piece on ISIS. Mehdi responded in his own article, which had lots of holes in it and begged and received criticism. Poor sap Mehdi just can’t stop putting his foot in his mouth.
Mehdi Hasan has put a lot of effort into declaring ISIS to be un-Islamic to the point of denying they are Islamic at all.
Mehdi insists there are motivations other than Islam for people joining ISIS. Even if religion were not the main motivating factor that gets them going, that wouldn’t mean they were not Islamic in what they do, in what they believe. When Christians go to war quoting God’s words it doesn’t make them non-Christian. May make them awful Christians, but still Christian. That someone has some other prime motivation for what they do, but they are Muslims when they do it, and use their Islamic texts selectively to justify themselves, does not make them un-Islamic.
Mehdi does not use all the texts of Islam – he is a liberal or moderate (hard to tell, he’s so slippery) Muslim. So he too is uni-Islamic, by his own standards of reasoning. ISIS are cherry picking, using a fringe interpretation? Sure. But ‘nice’ Muslims like Mehdi have to cherry pick too, to ignore the crazy stuff, or they have to come up with ‘scholarly’ reasons for justifying it ‘in context’.
Mehdi doesn’t want us to take what ISIS say as ‘gospel’. I don’t. But I don’t take as gospel anything Mehdi Hasan says on Islam. Muslims denouncing other Muslims is a Takfir game, and Mehdi is just as guilty of it as ISIS when they denounce liberal and moderate Muslims.
Mehdi is sceptical about ISIS claims to be holy warriors? Why? Religions are not necessarily non-warrior like, non-cruel, non-peaceful. The claims in Islam to be the religion of peace are contradicted explicitly by many parts of the texts. And if we must take those cruel texts with some nuance and context why can’t we apply nuance and context to the explicit claim that Islam the religion of peace? Double standards. Mehdi, like many religious people, likes to apply nuance and context to excuse the awful texts, but then come over all literal when it suits them. It is a literalist view that there really is a god, Allah.
Religion is the factor. Not the only one, but arguably the major one. No persecuted Jews or Hindus are radicalised to the extent that many Muslims are, such that international terrorism by so many Islamic groups plagues our age. That there are other factors doesn’t negate religion as a significant one if not the primary one. All the terrorist groups killing around the world in the name of Islam are testament to the Islamic nature of their terrorist activities.
Mehdi thinks that people are leaving London to join ISIS for other reasons than their Islamic perspective. The Islamic texts excuse the radicalisation in response to other factors in a way that other religions currently do not. It’s easy for Christians to distance themselves from the older texts of the Bible.
And what of the idea that ISIS are an unscholarly fringe cult and not really true Islam? Doesn’t matter. Compared to Christianity Islam is a minority religion. So is Judaism. We don’t deny someone’s claim to religion based on minority status.
Why can’t *very* Islamic be used to describe those that adhere to a more literal interpretation of the most vile cherry picked texts? Mehdi is not *very* Islamic according to conservatives that don’t accept his liberalism.
Mehdi wonders, “Why can’t we find *learned* scholars…” to support ISIS? This is very convenient move by scholars that want to distance themselves from ISIS. But we can find many scholars in Islamic states spouting similar rhetoric to ISIS on many counts. Saudi is executing people for trivial acts that shouldn’t even be crimes (and Mehdi the liberal would agree). Mehdi mentions the Grand Mufti of Saudi? Really? has he been tuning into that guy’s recent bollocks? You need to pick better advocates for your ‘nice’ Islam, Mehdi.
That the Islamic credentials of ISIS are disputed does not mean they are not Islamic. Sunni v Shia go through this process of denouncing each other. I’ve been told by Shias that I should listen only to good Shia scholars. And by Sunnis that say that only Sunni scholars have a correct interpretation. Takfir talking twits.
“They tell western journalists that they are serious about their faith, and we believe them…” – And inherent in that statement is the implication that we should believe Mehdi’s version of Islam is Islamic? Get over yourself, Mehdi. It is sufficient to simply observe. If they talk like Muslims, walk like Muslims, behead like Saudi Muslims, and match their behaviour to the texts, then ISIS are Muslims.
Mehdi foolishly appeals to other ideological states to excuse Islam and reject ISIS. He mentions North Korea. We don’t consider North Korea to be democratic because they are not, by any sense of democracy. But there is no way that ISIS are not Islamic – they pray, follow the texts – even if they are extreme and have a brutal interpretation.
Wood: “They [ISIS scholars] are not making things up” – Well, no more than any other Muslim scholars. In a world of religious bullshit how do you judge the validity of one bullshitter over many others?
Mehdi again: Naive recruits are buying “Islam for Dummies”, so this shows they are not true Muslims? Does this happen often, all the time, for all recruits? Let’s put aside how often that happens. More important to note is that such dummies can turn to violence so easily and find justification for it in Islamic texts. This means that the Islamic texts are dangerous weapons!
Handing a Quran to an ignoramus is no better than giving a child a loaded automatic weapon. This ‘naive unscholarly’ point is not making a good case for Islam. Quite the opposite, it is endorsing the case made by Sam Harris. This is exactly what he has been saying, that many Muslims do in fact interpret the texts literally. No amount of scholarly mental gymnastics is going to fix this. In fact the more scholarly learning is require the more dangerous the raw texts are. They are awful texts. So, yes, Islam (as described in the texts) is the mother lode of bad ideas.
Wood: “They are serious about the texts.” Even if they are in disagreement with Muslim scholarship through the ages it does not mean they are not motivated by their religion.
Are ISIS a revolutionary form of Islam? If they are, that may mean that they are not practising Mehdi Hasan’s Islam; but that doesn’t mean it is not Islam.
Again, even if they were universally declared to be un-Islamic, and even if they said, “Look, we are not Muslims, we are not Islamic, but we’re using the Islamic texts to determine what we do.” then, that merely goes to show again how awful these texts are: they can be turned to such brutal use; they contain brutal prescriptions.
Mehdi asks again, why we should think them scholarly when *all of Islam* scholars, whether conservative or liberal, Sufi or Salafi, Sunni or Shia, reject ISIS. Come on Mehdi, all those factions reject each other, you twit. Note the implication that *all Muslims* have a unity to them – and people like Sam Harris get criticised for being too general in their language? A unity of convenience. The duplicity stinks to high heaven.
So, Harris says ‘Islam’ is bad, based on the texts and how far too many interpretations of it are barbaric, from the implementations of Sharia in some states, to the killing of people by Muslim mobs around the world, and even to the homophobic hatred expressed by ‘moderate’ Muslims. And for this his critics claim he is injuring ALL Muslims. But then, Muslims like Mehdi Hasan are quick to defend Islam, ALL Islam, while being part of the Islamic tradition that denounces fellow Muslims as un-Islamic. It’s impossible to have an honest debate with people like Mehdi Hasan.
Mehdi: “No serious person would call the Branch Davidians Christian?” Well, quite. But the Roman Catholics thought the Anglican Church of Henry VIII to be non-Christian. This happens throughout the ages. There are always schisms. Again, Islam even has a tool, Takfir, for dealing with this, where other faiths only have heresy.
Mehdi comes back to the religious novices. Again that isn’t a good response. It just shows how dangerous the texts are that they can be used to incite such novices to ideological violence.
Mehdi thinks drugs alcohol and petty crime are responsible? That’s bullshit. The fact that many of these people are bright promising students is completely ignored by Mehdi Hasan.
But, I take his point, that some of the ignorant youths joining ISIS are not well educated. But I take it further. Very few if any Muslims conform to scholarly Islam – they do their own reasonable thing – unless incited to riot and rage by clerics and other Islam Dummies. This isn’t really saying much for Islam. Christianity does a lot of saving souls of druggies, but Islam makes it easy to recruit them for ISIS? Mehdi, please, this is not a good case you are making.
Mehdi: ISIS is about real holy warriors trading in porn? Well, sexual interest has never been a bar to religious belief. Neither has child abuse. So, Islam is so bad that it can’t prevent you doing the very things that some of its teachings forbid? Islam really is crap isn’t it. You heard that from Mehdi Hasan. Islamic texts can be used to incite people to violence, AND can’t dissuade them from using porn. OK.
Mehdi explains that few extremists are Islamic scholars. Well, neither are most Muslims. But again, that doesn’t bode well when dangerous Islamic texts prescribing all sorts of punishments, such as stoning adulterers to death, are as freely available as dangerous guns in the US. Telling us that people that join ISIS aren’t real scholars tells us all we need to know about the Islamic texts: not to be used by non-scholars.
Mehdi, “They [ISIS] pepper their language with Islamic quotations. Of course they do, it’s the best way to recruit people.” – What? So, here we have Mehdi Hasan telling us how good the texts of Islam are for recruiting Jihadists. After spending so much time telling us it’s not about religion he now admits that the Islamic texts are great extremists recruitment texts! Incredible.
Mehdi thinks that the Nazi party isn’t explained by Mein Kampf? You need the Treaty of Versailles, he says, to understand the Nazis? What on earth is he talking about? Of course you can get a lot about the Nazis from Mein Kampf, but like the Quran it’s not the only texts that the Nazis depend on. And the Hadith supplement the Quran superbly for Jihadists recruitment. Well done Mehdi, ISIS Sales Rep of the Year. You cannot understand ISIS by watching its videos and taking them literally? Well, those sources help; and of course you can read the Quran and Hadith it to clinch it. Wood responds: could you understand Nazism without Mein Kampf? We have to understand what the ideology is. And it is Islamic, without a shadow of a doubt. That Mehdi Hasan invokes Takfir on ISIS, and they on him, is not really making a case of any virtue.
Mehdi belittles ISIS propaganda. Is it a fair representation of what an Islamic state would be like? No, surely not, we hope. But if you think that gets Islam a pass you are very much mistaken. If you think *any* Islamic state there has ever been is worth having you are not getting the message about what liberal non-Muslims find wrong with Islam (and, for the record, US Christianity is no good advert for Christianity).
Wood speaks to the dishonesty of Mehdi Hasan who wants to play down the Islamic aspect of their motivation as much as possible, and to blame the western states for creating this monster. There is only one point here we can make, but it does Islam no good:
So, the west intervenes and takes out some undemocratic dictator, and leaves a vacuum in which this mess can arise? No, it’s not a vacuum. It’s a history of divisive Islamic disputes that have arisen from the mess, to now take hold. The inability to build a liberal democracy, or even establish a stable Islamic state, is not a good advert for Islam. If the Iranian theocracy that persecutes Sunnis is not a clue to Mehdi Hasan that Islam is not a good thing, then he us surely blinded by his biases.
Mehdi thinks we drown out the voices that reject ISIS? No we do not. Because Islam in places like Saudi and Iran does not give us an Islam that is any better. They give an Islam that is merely more controlled, less chaotic. You cannot build a state that is so self destructive. ISIS is a poor example of a state of any kind, to be sure; but that does not in itself make it un-Islamic. Again, we are not drowning out the beheadings in Saudi, but Mehdi Hasan is, for he rarely mentions it. If anything, it is other Muslims, the majority of Muslims, or the majority power systems of the Islamic world, that drown out the truly liberal Muslims in so many Islamic states.
Wood: ISIS is not only not an inevitable outcome of Islam, it isn’t even an inevitable outcome of a literalist Islam. Quite, but that doesn’t say much for Islam. Islam is an enabler of ISIS because its texts can so easily be turned to that purpose. Try that with Humanism – what Humanist texts would drive hordes of Humanists to start terror campaigns to form a Humanist State that persecutes all other beliefs?
Mehdi does not deny the numbers and the threat of ISIS. He agrees we should take them seriously. But the problem is that all this *Not Islamic* nonsense is the biggest denials destruction I’ve ever seen anywhere. This is the subject. Not what we can do about ISIS, not how we can prevent recruitment. In fact the Islamophobia mongering of Mehdi Hasan and others is preventing an honest reflection within Islam, within British Islam. Everyone is so busy defending Islam they are by default defending ISIS. Their Islamophobia rhetoric is fuelling the victimhood that is inciting yet more young Muslims to join up. Great job at recruiting for ISIS Mehdi.
Mehdi acknowledges at last (a bit late in the game) that it makes no sense to have the debate without any religious discussion – something he has been trying to achieve – but, he thinks it dangerous to say they are very Islamic, or even more Islamic. But, Mehdi, it’s far more dangerous to deny their Islamic influence and play this Islamophobia card.
Mehdi thinks talking about their Islamic status gives them some substantive claim to being Islamic. Well, it does, because they are. Again, not your Islam, Mehdi, but that’s just you playing your dishonest Takfir game, which is their game too.
Mehdi disputes the idea that ISIS take their religion more seriously than most Muslims. This is indeed a contentious point, but not totally devoid of merit. Many Muslims, like people of most religions, are varied in their devoutness and adherence to the requirements of the texts. There are two measures that need to be taken together: literalism and seriousness (or piety). Many non-serious non-literalist Muslims are just like believers in many other religions – they believe in their god, but basically just want to do the ordinary stuff of living. A serious (pious) but non-literalist Muslim may still be comfortable with democratic liberalism, in that they are personally pious but don’t enforce that on anyone else, because they don’t take the prescription to spread Islam so literally. But a seriously pious literalist of Islam is a dangerous beast.
Mehdi worries we might be throwing the majority of Muslims ‘under the bus’. This is nonsense. Islam is already a bad religion with all the states that implement it, and within the UK. If it were a reformed personal practice devoid of apostasy, blasphemy, and all punishments of any kind, then it wouldn’t be a problem. No body would care – and in fact people are so credulous there may well be far more converts than there now are.
Mehdi says that ISIS crave legitimacy and we shouldn’t be giving it to them. This is typical of cultures where superficial appearances mean more than genuine honesty. It’s the kind of culture where being pleasant to someone is far more important for making a good impression for the religion than being honest. We see this in the way in which so many Muslims interviewed will not give straight talking answers when they are asked about their support for various punishments prescribed by Islam. They have to maintain the facade of the religion of piece.
Mehdi doesn’t want us to denigrate the whole world of Islam. Sorry, Mehdi, it was already understood to be a vile religion as practised in all countries where it is a majority. ISIS is merely the appearance of the worst of Islam, that many non-Muslims worried about, but which many Muslims denied could ever come about. Here it is, our worst Islamic nightmare. Your worst Islamic nightmare. No wonder you are in denial.
On discussing the religious element Mehdi again insists ISIS is a fringe cult, with zero support within the Muslim world. That’s clearly false because these are not non-Muslims joining ISIS, but Muslims. And with any extremist fringe there are more supporters out there that have not yet or may never actually join them – but to say there is zero support is a down right lie. Duplicitous Mehdi Hasan strikes again.
Mehdi insist again that religion is not the motivator but the justification. Isn’t that to Islam’s discredit that it can be so used to justify these horrors? Yes, the revolutionary violence of other ideologies may have been used by previous generations. But this violent behemoth is justified very specifically by religious texts that in state contexts elsewhere have accusations of sorcery, stoning of adulterers, hanging of gays. It’s a barbaric religion, and Mehdi Hasan is only confirming that for us by his duplicitous denials.
We get back to the ‘learned scholars’ point. Wood: they are serious about the texts because they are from a literalist tradition. They are interested in the plain meaning of the words.
Well, of course, and there is plenty of religious barbarism in there to get their teeth into – find anything remotely like that in Humanism, which doesn’t even have the much ignored horrors of the Bible.
So, here we have both literalist scholars, and naive Islamic Dummies, all able to use these dangerous weapons of the Quran and the Hadith more lethally than all the school shooting sprees in the US.
And, the problem is that the scholars of Islam are making stuff up about interpretations of a fantasy. That can lead pretty much anywhere, because there are few restraints on scholarly interpretation of otherwise explicit texts. And yes, the humanism of most people stops them becoming ISIS-like, but in these more humane times it’s astonishing that Islamic states still subscribe to barbaric practices justified by Islam.
Wood concedes he’s not Muslim and it is not for him to say who is interpreting Islam correctly. Gleeful Mehdi is only too pleased to jump on this point; forgetting, or perhaps not realising, that even as a Muslim he is in no position either, because to many scholars his liberal Islam isn’t true Islam either – Mehdi Hasan is not a Muslim, according to some Muslims. Takfir. How about that.
Mehdi mentions Anjem Choudary – an attention seeking blowhard? Well, Choudary has the texts to back him up. Choudary is not a joke figure for many of the people that think the way he does. And CAGE and other Islamic organisations are implicated in his type of extremism. If these minorities were as small as Mehdi Hasan would have us believe there wouldn’t be a problem. And, Choudary’s links to Hizb ut-Tahrir isn’t a win for Mehdi, because that organisation has quite a following, and they only denounce ISIS as the true Caliphate because its not their Caliphate. More Takfir tosh.
Mehdi seems to be under the impression that ISIS is taken seriously because of their actual scholarly credentials. It isn’t. They are taken seriously in this regard precisely because they can so easily turn people to violence because they, like any Muslim, can aspire to being scholarly; and scholarly on barbaric punishments is so easy when the texts support it.
Mehdi again wants us not to take their word as ‘gospel’, because of their barbarity in beheading scholars, raping young girls. Those things are not a means to discredit their Islamic status if they can find justification in Islamic texts.
Mehdi answers the point that ISIS can quote the text by referring to David Koresh and his use of the Bible. Is this supposed to be a plus for Islam? Is this supposed to convince us that the Islamic texts cannot be used for such atrocities? Mehdi, you are a fool if you think this is making Islam sound any better. It is truly laughable that Mehdi uses David Koresh as an example of another religious cult easily finding justification in ancient barbaric texts. The joke is on you Mehdi. Koresh believed himself to be the final prophet of his cult. Where have we heard that before? Mohammed! Mehdi, keep digging that hole.
Mehdi: “No one is saying these people are not Muslims” – What? If they are Muslims in what way are they un-Islamic? This is stupid. “They are not authentically representative of Muslims.” Well, nor are Sunnis of Shias or Shias of Sunnis. What the hell, Mehdi, keep digging.
Mehdi tries the error of attribution? Oh, Mehdi, you total bullshitter. No one is denying all the political discontent, the identity crises, or whatever else you’d like to include. The point is that the barbaric texts of Islam are the justification, as you say. Isn’t that enough to condemn the Islamic texts? Of course that doesn’t condemn all Muslims because so many Muslims cherry pick (as you claim ISIS do) and interpret in their own way (as you claim ISIS do).
Don’t you get it Mehdi? Islam needs reform to put its nasty texts behind it. But it cannot because the Quran is supposed to be inerrant and the Hadith are used to justify so much more of the political and judicial aspects of Islam.
Mehdi brings up socio-economic factors? You have got to be kidding me. The wealthy Saudi families? The King of Jordan invoking Islamic wrath for the death of their pilot? The well educated British people being turned to join ISIS? The ignorant ‘scholars’ in Saudi and Iran that persecute people, Muslims and non-Muslim? The UAE courts that have criminalised rape victims, Muslim and non-Muslim alike? Get real Mehdi, there is nothing that Muslims in Britain are suffering that cannot be said of Jews and Hindus. All the recent anti-Islamic push-back has included frustrated right wing nationalist in Britain as a direct result of the vociferous supremacist nature of Islam, as sold in the UK by many Muslims, as well as Islam’s reputation as implemented in Islam dominated states.
Mehdi worries about us obsessing over the Islamic nature of ISIS? He’s the one obsessing over it, in his obsession with denying it. It is not being obsessive to point out that ISIS is using the Quran and Hadith to justify their actions when in fact they are. These are the facts that even Mehdi Hasan admits to. Get over it, Mehdi, accept that it’s right there in the texts and deal with it. Sadly, you cannot deal with it because these are your texts too.
Mehdi says we must understand ISIS. Well, yes. But denying their Islamic status, even if it’s not your Islamic status, isn’t helping in that endeavour. You are adding to the problem.
Mehdi points out that ISIS is also the product of the invasion of Iraq? Then that’s not saying a lot for the capacity of the religion of peace to come together and form a peaceful state in Iraq when the hated Americans left. Where was the unity of Islam? It was lost in the divisive corrosive nature that plagues all religions in conflict. The war in Iraq freed the chaos of religious sectarianism that was repressed under Saddam. That sectarianism is now free. That’s not a good advert for Islam, Mehdi.
Mehdi starts to make concessions toward the end, because he pretty much has to. He points out how Wood’s piece upset people – well, yes, because it contained more of the truth about the Islamic nature of ISIS than Mehdi Hasan and others have been happy with. It must be a very discomforting truth to take in, that your inerrant Quran can be so easily used to turn naive people to such grotesque behaviours. It’s right there in the texts!
It’s funny how we non-Muslims are told so often how we should listen to Muslims rather than make stuff up. Wood spoke to Muslims. But not the right type of Muslims according to his critics. Takfir talk again.
Mehdi wants to now avoid the notion that it’s a war within Islam. Well, many Muslims are being killed, by Muslims. Mehdi seems prepared to twist the argument any way he can to avoid pinning any of it on Islam.
Yes, we want to take into account all factors. But once all other factors have been removed, all social injustices sorted (as if that happens, to any group) we will still have Islamic theocracies behaving barbarically in the name of Islam. Iran was primarily an Islamic theocratic revolution. If you think that’s a good advert for Islam think again.
Sorry, Mehdi, but you are making me more and more convinced that Islam is by nature a dishonest religion.
Humanism: teaches only good stuff. If you kill in the name of humanism you will find no texts supporting your actions.
Islam: teaches good stuff and brutal barbaric stuff. Good, evil, or either, depending on mood or cartoons, Islam justifies it all. If you want to use it for good, you can. If you want to use it for evil, you can. Great.
And, this evening, as I write this, the Tunisia museum attack happened. If ISIS is doing one thing of use, it is, despite the denials, forcing Muslims to wake up to the nature of their own religion and its capacity to be turned to the barbaric ends that the texts prescribe. No amount of scholarly bullshit can hide the heinous nature of these inerrant texts.