Tag Archives: Islam

Islam and Freedom of Belief

Let there be no compulsion in religion

Let there be no compulsion in religion

We hear a lot of intolerance and Islam. When there’s a complaint in Europe or north America about Islamaphobia or suggested restrictions on the wearing of the full-face veil, you can be guaranteed that someone will remind us that when it comes to intolerance, Islamic states can be hard to beat. “Try walking through Mecca in a mini-skirt,” they’ll say. “Or proselytizing for Christianity. You’ll soon know what real intolerance is like.

But that’s not the full picture – as you’ll know if you follow the Unity blog of Usama Hasan. (A good guy you may remember from a previous bust-up.)

He’s written an interesting paper called No Compulsion in Religion: Islam and the Freedom of Belief. I reproduce some of it here. I’ve cut a lot for brevity and scrapped the footnotes. So I recommend you read the original. But in the meantime, please read this. It enlightened me.

Following the international furore in 2012 over the amateurish, inflammatory and offensive film, Innocence of Muslims, there were calls around the world to introduce or strengthen rules that would become akin to global blasphemy laws.  Dozens of people were killed during violent protests in Muslim-majority countries, including US Ambassador Stevens in Libya by a terrorist attack under cover of anti-film protests, and a Pakistani minister placed a $100,000 bounty on the head of the film-director.

For many of us, this felt like a case of “Here we go again.”  From books and films to cartoons, teddy bears and desecration of copies of the Qur’an by a handful of American fundamentalists and soldiers, the story is the same: instead of ignoring material insulting and offensive to Islam, or forgiving their authors as the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) would have done, some immature Muslims resort to violence that ends up killing people who had done more than most to actually help Muslims or Muslim-majority countries.  Furthermore, the poor-quality “offending” material receives far more publicity than it deserved, and the image of Islam is dragged through the mud yet again, to the exasperation of the vast majority of ordinary, decent Muslims.

In the 1980’s, Salman Rushdie’s The Satanic Verses, an expletive-laden, largely-unreadable book was catapulted, along with its author, into international fame by an Islamist campaign of “raising awareness” by publicising its satirical insults towards holy figures of Islam, culminating in Ayatollah Khomeini’s notorious fatwa ordering Rushdie’s murder.  The same story was repeated, two decades later, with the Danish cartoons satirising the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him): these were largely unknown when first published, until a Denmark-based Egyptian cleric began a campaign publicising them.  Surely, to love the Prophet and his disciples means not to publicise gross insults directed at him.  If people insult our loved ones, such as parents, children or siblings, would we broadcast those offensive comments or depictions to the whole world?

In all these cases, dozens of ordinary people died in riots and protests around the world: this is extremely ironic, when the Prophet himself is said to have taught that the destruction of the Ka’bah, the holiest site of Islam, is lighter in the sight of God than the taking of a single life Continue reading

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No smoke without fire

Not dead. (At time of writing.)

Here’s a little insight into how easy it is difficult it is to subvert international news organisations.

Somebody created a twitter account that looked very much like an official Sky News account. It had the Sky News logo as a picture. (I’m not linking to it.) Then they tweeted that Margaret Thatcher had died.

Oh dear.

Cue big excitement behind the scenes of news organisations.

It’s a prime example of how much more important it is to be right than to be first. (Sky News has had ascribed to it the motto “Never wrong for long” i.e. might not be dead now, but will be sometime. Or wrong news now, but we can correct it and then it’ll be fine. To be clear though, Sky wasn’t the culprit in this case. The twitter account was fake.)

Was the incorrect news of Margaret Thatcher’s death broadcast on the BBC Continue reading

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The art of Muslim flirting

She’s definitely winking. Picture from a post about Muslim TV sex counseller Heba Kotb on a different blog. (Warning – Some of the comments are graphic. But you’ll be quite safe on Nadia’s blog.)

The art of Muslim flirting. Such a great title. Sounds better than – here’s a round up of interesting blog things. Which is what this really is.

But it begins with Muslims flirting. Nadia El-Awady reveals all here and gives some top tips. Don’t be creepy, but do try arm wrestling Continue reading

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It’s not all just about getting stoned…

It’s not all just about getting stoned, wearing a veil and chopping hands off thieves. Islamic law, that is. There’s a lot of talk, fear, posturing, hot air and general ill-informed comment about sharia.

So here’s your chance to become an instant expert – well, within 40 minutes.

The In Our Time radio show on BBC Radio 4 was discussing the origins of sharia this morning.

Britain’s answer to Donald Trump Continue reading

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Is this racist?

Is this racist? Or sectarian? Or more simply – just bullying?

Or perhaps it’s somewhere on the spectrum between fair comment and edgy political satire?

That’s one side of a lantern at what some call the world’s biggest moving outdoor art display – the Basel Fasnacht. The other side – the more offensive side is Continue reading

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This made me cry…

This story made me cry. Which is unusual. Continue reading

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Imam learns the high price of speaking out

Here’s a happy, sad and messy story about the imam of a London mosque who  preached – or at least opened for discussion the idea – that Islam and the theory of evolution are compatible – and that Muslim women should be allowed to uncover their hair in public. Continue reading

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