Muhammad Believed in… What?

The Exploring Islam Foundation has put up a series of “Inspired by Muhammad” ads on buses in London.

Because when you think Muhammad, obviously the first things that come to mind are social justice, women’s rights, and the environment…

(Women’s rights? Really?! The woman saying that is wearing a hijab, something that many Islamic women are forced to wear!)

This commenter debunks every one of those claims above.

Journalist Douglas Murray can’t believe this either:

The campaign posters show British Muslims saying things like: “I believe in protecting the environment. So did Mohammed.” Funniest of all is a woman barrister in a headscarf who fronts the poster: “I believe in women’s rights. So did Mohammed.” Unless, like the female poet Asma bint Marwan, you did something Mohammed didn’t like. (According to various hadiths, he had her killed for criticising Islam.) Or unless, like his bride Aisha, you were nine years old and he decided, at the age of 52, that it was time to consummate the marriage.

A blogger at Uzza’s Notes created alternative versions — and, unlike the original ads, the blogger backs these up with citations from the Koran:

The parodies are gonna be ripe for this one…

Even Jesus and Mo are getting in on the action:

It’s a nice attempt at a campaign. There’s obviously something wrong with the image of Islam. But unlike the image problems for atheism (that prompted all of our ads), the negative perception of Islam isn’t unwarranted.

Radical Muslims, no doubt, have done awful things and continue to do them.

But Moderate Muslims aren’t helping their cause.

They don’t do nearly enough to criticize the radicals. Sure, they denounce violence in the name of Islam, but how often do you hear them denouncing things like the female face coverings? Anyone remember when they got mad at us for drawing images of Muhammad? One of the most outspoken moderate Muslims, Eboo Patel, compared atheists’ harmless stick figure drawings to a swastika!

You’ll never see an ad in this “Inspired by Muhammad” campaign that says “I believe in free speech. So did Muhammad.”

Or “I believe in peace. So did Muhammad.”

Or “I believe in religious freedom. So did Muhammad.”

Because even the ads creators know those posters would just lead to raised eyebrows and laughter.

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  • http://blueollie.wordpress.com ollie

    Ahhh, cherry picking from one’s scriptures is something that Jews and Christians routinely do…so why can’t Muslims do it too?

    :-)

  • Ed

    Nice post and thanks for linking again to the Eboo Patel piece. I didn’t read it the first time around, but am glad I did this time. One quote from that article stands out

    And when Muslims are in the picture, all 1.5 billion of us somehow get linked to the Dragon Threatening Civilization rather than being viewed as your neighbors just trying to go about our business.

    This is true and it goes to the heart of your current post, moderate Muslims, just like everyone else, largely want to go about their days under the radar. They don’t want to blow things up, cause confrontations, enslave people etc. They just want to “go about their business” and be “neighbors”. This is the exact problem though- moderate Muslims can’t go under the radar, stay silent or look the other way when a radical fringe acts in a heinous manner in the name of their faith. If their claims to peace, tolerance, and good neighborliness are to have any weight at all, they must vigorously speak out against their radical elements. Going under the radar, a natural tendency for many, must be set aside here, otherwise their silence does make them (at least complicit with) the “Dragon Threatening Civilization”.

  • http://hoverfrog.wordpress.com hoverfrog

    I believe in flying donkeys. So did Muhammad.

  • http://aish.com pet peeve

    Exactly what I’ve felt for long time now – you never hear any criticism from the moderates & silence = complicity

  • Hugh Kramer

    As to believing that you’ll never see an “Inspired by Muhammad” ad touting belief in freedom of speech, peace and freedom of religion Hemant, I think you’re being way too pessimistic. I’ve had conversations with Muslims who say things like “Of course we believe in freedom of speech… but there also must be respect.”

    On freedom of religion, I’ve heard them say “We respect other religions. All we want is the same respect for ours” (IE: don’t criticize us).

    And then there’s the whole “religion of peace” thing with revisionist Muslims like Dr. Zakir Naik even claiming that the word “Islam” is derived from “salaam” meaning “peace.”

    Now it couldn’t be possible that you were making that statement tongue in cheek, Hemant? Right?
    :)

  • http://www.secularplanet.org Secular Planet

    I have to disagree with you, Hemant.

    Because even the ads creators know those posters would just lead to raised eyebrows and laughter.

    The one about women’s rights is just as, if not more, ridiculous then these, yet it ran. Muhammad did believe in peace and religious freedom… for Muslims.

  • Jude

    No need to change the captions – keep the captions and change the picture!

    For example, just find a picture of women covered head-to-toe in a burkha, and caption it “I believe in women’s rights – so did Mohammed”.

    Or google a picture of a stoning or a hanging (they’re so easy to find – unfortunately) and caption it “I believe in social justice – so did Mohammed”.

    Using their own words with the photographic evidence is a lot more powerful than the tongue-in-cheek alternate texts used above.

    If anyone reading has some photoshop skills, feel free to steal my idea!

  • Marie

    Hemant,

    As an American expat living in the Middle East (Amman, Jordan), I would like to share some insights.

    Fist – everyone focuses on the hijab. In the Middle Eastern countries where hijab is not law, it is, for many woman, simply a cultural statement that they pair with skin tight jeans and tops with plunging necklines. There is a lot of social pressure to wear the headscarf, as well.

    But let’s forget about the hijab for a minute. Because frankly, as long as there is no law forcing a woman to wear it – as long as hearwear is a choice – I don’t care if a person wears a parrot on his or her head.

    People are so focused on that scarf, they overlook the serious issues.

    For example, in a case of giving witness testimony, Sharia Law states that it takes TWO WOMEN to give a testimony that is weighted the same as the testimony of ONE MAN.

    Another example is inheritence law. If there is one brother and one sister and the parents die, the brother takes 2/3 of the inheritence and the sister takes 1/3. Why? Because he’s a man – he needs it more.

    Finally, although Muslim women are allowed to have their own money that cannot be touched by their husbands or male relatives, if a woman wishes to buy land or a house, she must have the explicit consent of her husband. If she is not married, the consent must come from her father. If the father is deceased, the consent must come from the brother(s).

    To get to the core of the issue, Islam was very progressive… in the 600s. Fast forward to 2010 and you have a religion that has a specific code of antiquated laws that are enforced in many countries in lieu of civil law. Muslims will always respond to criticisms against their laws stating that, for example, the Bible is filled with similar codes and rules. True. But those codes and rules are not enforced as laws – at least not in the West. The Christians can act like idiots all day long, but the governments aren’t enforcing their laws.

    It is my experience living in the Middle East and watching this oppression that pushed me over the edge from “I’m not sure what to believe…” to an atheist. Clearly all religions were created to control people like cattle, but nowhere in the world is that more obvious than in a Middle Eastern country ruled by Sharia law.

  • http://www.ryanrobinsononline.com Ryan

    On the women’s rights note, my understanding of Muslim history (which is admittedly limited) is that Muhammad actually was very progressive in the reforms brought for women. For his time and culture, that is, which was mostly a bunch of Arab nomad tribes that treated women pretty horrendously. I’m definitely not saying that the steps he took then, which were an improvement, are still good for our culture, but in a weird way I can see how they could legitimately make an argument that he did care about women’s rights. Maybe if not for the child wives… I’m still having trouble defending that one even within their culture.

    Its actually similar to Christian history in that way as well. Jesus himself as well as the early Christians were also incredibly radical in treatment of women – allowing them to be single, telling husbands they had to love their wives, not just the other way around, female leadership in the church which was perfectly normal for the first couple hundred years, etc.

    My argument that I’ve come to over the years as a very staunch egalitarian Christian is that both Christians and Muslims latched on to what was originally a progression and made them rules for all time instead of continuing to progress. Then society passed us, continuing to progress while we used the Bible/Qu’ran to sit still. Historically, and many still today, missed the point and opted for legalism instead.

  • Erp

    Hugh, Salaam and Islam are related linguistically. Both use the slm root (Arabic like Hebrew uses three consonant roots and vary vowels to convey different meanings). The slm root is used for among other words

    aslama – to submit
    salaam – peace (and related to Shalom, Hebrew for peace and the names Solomon and Salame)
    salama – health and safety
    muslim – one who follows Islam

  • Marie

    Ryan,

    Excellent response – progressive for the times.

    I would like to add about child wives – disgusting, obviously. But back then – 1500 or 2000 years ago – didn’t people die a LOT younger? Wasn’t it the norm for people to marry as soon as they reached child bearing age? (Although I believe one of Mohammed’s wives might have been even younger still.)

    Anyway – the marriage at child-bearing age example is actually a fantastic example of why what was good centuries ago doesn’t necessarily work centuries into the future. It seems very clear to me, but obviously billions around the world disagree…

  • SpaceDust

    I made this one as soon as I saw this post on Freethinker.

    http://i.imgur.com/VIyOt.jpg

  • Lost Left Coaster

    Sure, they denounce violence in the name of Islam, but how often do you hear them denouncing things like the female face coverings?

    Hemant, I really wish you would avoid addressing over a billion people as so monolithic. Maybe I’m extra sensitive to this, because I recently spent a week visiting friends, and nearly all of them were moderate-to-apostate Muslims. I guess I should quiz all of them on whether or not they have denounced face coverings and violence frequently enough to qualify as moderate enough to be one of the good Muslims, as defined by Hemant?

    This sense of collective guilt, that all Muslims are responsible for the crimes of the radical and violent few, is very similar to the kind of attitude that might lead someone to decide that all Americans were responsible for the crimes of our nation…and therefore deserve to be punished.

    I say this as someone who is not a big fan of organized religion in general, and certainly favors critiques of religion, but I get really disturbed when atheist critiques of Islam, such as what we see here on this post, very neatly mirror Religious Right critiques of Islam. So many atheists sound like raving Christianists to me when they start talking about Islam.

  • ihedenius

    I’m making shit up. So did Muhammed

  • Edman

    @Ryan

    Very good point. The morality put forth by Jesus was exceptionally progressive for the time. I think Christianity would do well to heed their own words:

    “When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put childish ways behind me.”

    Time for humanity to grow up.

  • Guy G

    Because when you think Muhammad, obviously the first things that come to mind are social justice, women’s rights, and the environment…

    Surely that’s the whole point…

    Journalist Douglas Murray can’t believe this either:

    That would be Douglas Murray from the Telegraph? It’s not quite as bad as saying “Fox news anchorman can’t believe this either”, but it’s in the same ballpark.

    Radical Muslims, no doubt, have done awful things and continue to do them.

    But Moderate Muslims aren’t helping their cause.

    Isn’t that what this poster campaign is about? To promote the things which moderate Muslims agree with in juxtaposition to what the radicals are promoting?
    Stating that you believe in woman’s rights *is* an implicit criticism of those who don’t.

  • Guy G

    This sense of collective guilt, that all Muslims are responsible for the crimes of the radical and violent few, is very similar to the kind of attitude that might lead someone to decide that all Americans were responsible for the crimes of our nation…and therefore deserve to be punished.

    This got submitted as I was writing my post, but I think it is an excellent paragraph. I think that it sums up the issue very concisely.

  • Puzzled

    Hmm, well, why is no one calling for Jews to denounce attacking humanitarian ships?

  • Daniel

    @Guy: I’m afraid you’re not going to be too convincing to this crowd. Consider the quote:

    But unlike the image problems for atheism (that prompted all of our ads), the negative perception of Islam isn’t unwarranted.

    Atheists are the victims here, and Muslims deserve criticism, don’t you GET it?

    While I understand that the negative image of Atheists comes from religious intolerance, to say something like “unlike our group, which is being persecuted unfairly, this other group deserves persecution” is ridiculous.

  • http://thegodlessmonster.com/ The Godless Monster

    @Lost Left Coaster,
    You are missing the point. It’s not about “collective guilt”, it’s about Muslims taking collective responsibility.
    If anything,as a former Muslim myself, I find Hemant to be a bit easy-going on Islam…
    http://thegodlessmonster.com/2010/03/18/a-more-pressing-danger/

  • Matt

    If we’re so wrong about moderate Muslims, then:
    – are moderate muslims accepting of women that do not wear head coverings?
    – do women, in a moderate muslim’s view, receive the same level of rights and respect as a man?
    – do moderates support freedom of speech, even if they find it offensive?
    – do moderates condemn censorship of the Internet when a bunch of people are drawing stick figures?

    If you say “no” to any of these, then I don’t see how the flak that moderate Muslims receive is unwarranted.

  • Angie

    Mohammed believed in women’s rights!? What a load of crap! The Quran condones polygamy, sexual abuse of female slaves, less inheritance for daughters than sons, and domestic violence. How on earth could any of that be compatible with women’s equality?

    Take for example Surah 4:34: “Men are in charge of women, because Allah hath made the one of them to excel the other, and because they spend of their property (for the support of women). So good women are the obedient, guarding in secret that which Allah hath guarded. As for those from whom ye fear rebellion, admonish them and banish them to beds apart, and scourge them.”

    http://www.skepticsannotatedbible.com/quran/4/index.htm

  • Fritzy

    I like Jude’s idea. Very poignent.

    As far as collective guilt vs collective responsibility–these posters may be an attempt to try to clean up the image of Islam but the fact of the matter, by not facing the attrocities commited by radical Muslims head on (rather than “implicitly”) it appears that moderate Muslims are ignoring the elephant in the room, or at best, making sideways glances at it.

    And yeah, these posters are laughable.

  • Gib

    Hey, I believe in the rights of pets. The right to be fed, and given shelter.

    But I will hit the dog if it does something wrong. I will keep more than one dog as a pet if I want, and I will lock it in the house or backyard and not let it out by itself. I also won’t let it drive a car or be too friendly with the neighbour’s dog.
    Believing in the rights of pets does not mean believing they have the same rights as humans.

    If the advertisement said “I believe women have the same rights as men. So did Muhammed”, then I’d say they’re lying. As it is, they’re just being very misleading.

  • Samantha

    “Women’s rights? Really?! The woman saying that is wearing a hijab, something that many Islamic women are forced to wear!”

    I’m afraid the issue of the female headscarf isn’t actually that simple. While it may be true that women in certain muslim countries are forced to cover up when they go outside, many young muslim women are reclaiming the headscarf as a feminist act, and an assertion of their identity.

    To assume that all Muslim women are forced to do so is perpetuating a myth that Muslim women are victims and need to be rescued.

    The woman is wearing what looks like legal attire – so the assumption is that she has a husband (or father) who “lets” her be educated through university, and go far in a male dominated profession, but then dictates what she can wear?

    There are many things that need changing in Islam, and many people who undoubtedly suffer, but those who don’t believe that a Muslim women can be a feminist need to do a google search on the subject. Or read a book. I would suggest “Feminism in Islam” by Margot Badran.

    *gets off soapbox* :)

  • JB Tait

    I often see complaints that Muslim women are forced to wear a hijab or burkah, but no one ever complains that American women are forced to wear a shirt or bra in places where men are not.

    Where is the limit of what is fair or right in this situation? Why should we be forced to drape our bodies in textiles, and very specific ones at that.

    Why must I take my nightgown off, if I want to go outside because the shirt and shorts I wear under it present a more acceptable appearance? What is the difference between a nightgown, and a robe or a housedress? What is the difference between pyjamas and a sweatsuit?

    And while I am at it, why do so many Americans feel that those women who do not put paint on their faces are somehow defective, to the extent that in the DSM-IV, failure to wear makeup is considered a symptom of mental disorder ? Isn’t this the burka writ in goo?

  • http://thegodlessmonster.com/ The Godless Monster

    @Matt,
    Wow, a lot of ignorant misconceptions on both sides of the fence today. Do you actually know any Muslims personally? You seem to have a cartoon image of Muslims that you are working off of.

    I’ll answer your questions:
    – are moderate muslims accepting of women that do not wear head coverings?
    ANSWER: Are you serious? Yes, my Dad accepted my sisters and my mother. We have many relatives and friends that are the same.
    – do women, in a moderate muslim’s view, receive the same level of rights and respect as a man?
    ANSWER: Yes, in many moderate Muslim families, absolutely. Not ALL, but many. In reality, are women treated equally in Muslim culture? Hell no. Of course not.
    – do moderates support freedom of speech, even if they find it offensive?
    ANSWER: Many do, absolutely!
    – do moderates condemn censorship of the Internet when a bunch of people are drawing stick figures?
    ANSWER: See the answer to the previous question.
    The point is that they do not do enough to reign in the radicals. They do not do enough to distance themselves from those portions of the Quran that espouse violence, pederasty, genocide, intolerance and hate. By their silence and inactivity, they tacitly promote those very things they claim to disdain.

  • Ron in Houston

    I’m with Left Coaster and the idea that this article does a lot of painting with a monolithic brush.

    I’m also not big on the idea of “collective responsibility.” Just because you identify with some organization doesn’t mean that you must do something every time some wacky member does something stupid.

  • Addi

    I found this post on StumbleUpon and I’m frankly disgusted. Islam did a LOT for women’s rights in his time. For the first time, women were allowed to own property. They were permitted to become educated and employed. Marriage was revolutionized by the Qur’an: women did not have to give up everything they owned to their husbands, were given a dowry which they could keep, and receive inheritance on his death. For crying out loud, it was common practice to bury female infants in the sand before Islam! Historical context is everything.

  • Guy G

    The point is that they do not do enough to reign in the so-called radicals. They do not do enough to distance themselves from those portions of the Quran that espouse violence, pederasty, genocide, intolerance and hate. By their silence and inactivity, they tacitly promote those very things they claim to disdain.

    In my view, what is necessary is for moderates to “take back” Islam in the public eye. Not to say “we’re like them but without the bad stuff”, but to say “this is what we actually believe – it’s actually quite a lot like what you believe, isn’t it”.
    I disagree that it is the responsibility of moderate Muslims to reign in the radicals (although I think if a friend/relative is becoming radicalised, that’s another matter). They are not the same people – although ostensibly they share the same religion, their core beliefs may be significantly different. I think that the slow drip of information as to what it means to be Muslim to the moderate majority is more effective.
    Having said that, which tack to take is a matter of opinion. I don’t necessarily agree with all your opinions, but I can’t fault the way you argue them.

  • http://thegodlessmonster.com/ The Godless Monster

    @Ron in Houston.

    I’m also not big on the idea of “collective responsibility.” Just because you identify with some organization doesn’t mean that you must do something every time some wacky member does something stupid.

    You are right. I miscommunicated and I’m glad you caught that. What I should have pointed out was the almost complete failure of the “moderate Muslim” leadership in the West to effectively and decisively confront and denounce radical Islamic fundamentalism. This is an obvious failure to take collective responsibility.

  • Neon Genesis

    “Radical Muslims, no doubt, have done awful things and continue to do them.

    But Moderate Muslims aren’t helping their cause.

    They don’t do nearly enough to criticize the radicals.”

    You mean like besides the fact that the guy who stopped the NY bomb attempt recently was a Muslim which the media and this blog completely ignored?

  • http://thegodlessmonster.com/ The Godless Monster

    @ Guy G,

    I think that the slow drip of information as to what it means to be Muslim to the moderate majority is more effective.

    Ah, to live in a perfect world in which we could just hit the pause button on Islamic terrorist ambitions and wait for the moderate’s influence to slowly play “catch-up”…oh, that would be fantastic, wouldn’t it? But they aren’t going to stop and wait for the rest of us, now are they?
    We don’t have the luxury of time in regards to dealing with a barbaric death cult bent on our eventual enslavement and/or destruction.
    We could have tried talking the Nazis to death, but somehow, I don’t think that would have worked very well.

  • http://religiouscomics.net Jeff P

    I don’t view radical/moderate Muslim divide as being any different in principle than the radical/moderate Christian divide. The only difference is that the Islamic world is predominantly in societies that are less well educated. As the education levels of the Muslim societies catches up with the Western world, I predict that their radicals will become more in the fringe (like the Christian radicals). It is probably only wishful thinking (on the part of secularists) that the moderates of either religion would speak out against the theology of the radicals since in doing so, they only embarrass themselves since the moderates basically believe the same things as the radicals. It is only their actions that are different.

  • Guy G

    We could have tried talking the Nazis to death, but somehow, I don’t think that would have worked very well.

    We also could have laid the blame at the feet of moderate German Nationalists and said “they’re your lot – you sort them out”. I don’t think that would have worked out, either…

    Your post at 10:13am was quite interesting though. IMO, moderate Muslim leaders did emphatically and publicly denounce the terrorists, certainly after both 9/11 and the 7/7 bombings, stating time and again that these acts were despised by the vast majority of Muslims, and were thoroughly un-Islamic. Admittedly such statements are only given in reaction to attacks, but I imagine that that’s the only time such denouncements are likely to actually get on the news.

  • http://skepticsplay.blogspot.com miller

    If they didn’t make ads like this, how the hell else are they supposed to start actively promoting a more progressive Islam? Would you rather that they stay quiet and let the fundamentalists get the say?

  • crazysquid

    No amount of name calling, or mud slinging of religions at each other can hide the ugly truth. Every religion teaches that if you disagree with their religion you will die.
    The Christian religion boldly tells of it’s proud atrocities against man in it’s Novel,”The Holy Bible”.
    I have said it before and I will say it again. I do not need an instruction manual to know how to treat my fellow man.
    If you need one to tell you not to kill, rape, torture and suppress your fellow man, then yeah, go ahead and read one, live by it, just don’t tell me about it and if i do not share your views, plot to kill me for it.
    If I choose to draw, paint or even photograph a likeness of your blessed God, don’t plot to destroy my family.
    If I decide to marry a person of a different belief, how about laying off the stoning.
    If I decide not to follow in my fathers religion, please do not kill me.
    Good Night Irene, I could go on forever!

  • sc0tt

    Here’s a campaign that might work –

    I’m a Muslim… I don’t really believe all that nonsense but Ramadan is kind of fun and that Yahabibi music is great for working out to.

  • crazysquid

    (:

  • Neon Genesis

    Are these ads any different than the MCC’s pro-gay Christian ads?

  • Andrew Morgan

    As I said in a previous, related thread (http://friendlyatheist.com/2010/06/08/i-dont-oppose-the-mosque-near-ground-zero/), so much more light would be generated if we could decide what the teachings of Islam — importantly from the Koran and hadith — actually are.

    Was Muhammad a terrible person? Does Islam consider him to be a model for all time? Answers to questions like these will help shed light on whether or not the “moderate Muslim community” is ever going to have a leg to stand on in arguing for a peaceful Islam, or if they’re merely going to be laughed at.

    At what point does a member of a faith, based on their beliefs, cease to be a member of that faith? Is it merely sufficient that a person describe themselves as “Muslim” or “Christian” in order for them to be so? Who gets to make that decision: the members of the faith, who have a personal stake in the outcome, or members of the wider community, who have to craft public and foreign policy?

    Everyone seems wedded to the idea that a religion’s mere existence demonstrates that it has quite a lot of good bits that justifies its continued existence.

    We also seem enamored with the idea that the existence of “moderates” — Christian moderates, Muslim moderates, Jewish moderates — means that they are as theologically and historically consistent, if not more so, than their radical brethren.

  • Elian Gonzalez

    Yes, yes, “salam” and “Islam” are wonderfully peaceful words…except a “Muslim” is not one who “follows” Islam, he’s one who submits. Islam dominates and is not dominated: it’s everything in life; it’s not some benign philosophy that’s been radicalized by a few people who are angry at American policies.

    And as for cherry picking? Well, it’s called Islamic law (the Quran, the Hadith) and there are four accepted schools of this jurisprudence, and they ALL have something to say about jihad and the like, and that’s the prism through which the world is viewed. These ads? They’re for Western consumption.

  • http://hoverfrog.wordpress.com hoverfrog

    You know I can believe that the Muslims in the first set of pictures believe in the things that the adverts claim. What I have trouble believing is that Mo believed the same and that these moderate and reasonable beliefs are shared by all Muslims. Similarly the second set of pictures that have been changed represent a minority view that I could also accept. They don’t apply to all Muslims and we’d be foolish to think that they do.

    I also have trouble believing that Christians believe in charity, compassion and basic human kindness. Sure a lot of them do but some of them are right shits.

    The label (Muslim or Christian or whatever faith you want to choose) is too broad to make a specific claim against. If they said “I’m a Muslim and I believe in…” (or “I’m an atheist and I believe in…”) then I think it would go further in dispelling the false stereotypes that we’ve got about extremely large and varied groups.

    Even if Muslims believe in a magic flying donkey and Christians believe in an evil talking snake.

  • http://thegodlessmonster.com/ The Godless Monster

    @Guy G,

    IMO, moderate Muslim leaders did emphatically and publicly denounce the terrorists, certainly after both 9/11 and the 7/7 bombings, stating time and again that these acts were despised by the vast majority of Muslims, and were thoroughly un-Islamic.

    You are correct, but you leave something important out. In most (admittedly not all) of these cases, the individuals who denounced these acts also qualified their statements by informing us silly westerners as to why these acts were being perpetrated. To paraphrase the lot, their denouncements usually go something like this, “These were horrible acts and are not representative of Islam, which is a religion of peace. However, if it had not been for the U.S. support for Israel…”. Sometimes these rationalizations occur concurrently with the official protest, sometimes they are occur at another place and time and are conveniently never brought up by the MSM.
    This has been the standard moderate Muslim response for terrorist attacks. I’ve even heard it myself from so-called moderate friends and relatives.
    Those aren’t denouncements in my book. If they have to qualify them with an explanation as to why these barbarians kill innocents, then these people are nothing less than apologists for murderers.

  • Jen

    I think the important problem with this ad campaign is that the women they are interviewing in the videos on the site are all (or mostly) from Western/Westernized nations. What matters is less the religion and more the culture. An Islamic woman in America/Canada/Etc is going to having it easier than one growing up in Somalia*.

    *I may have just started reading Infidel

  • Aj

    You can’t read the Koran and Hadith and get the impression that Muhammad was for equality between the sexes. It’s not surprising that countries run by Muslims tend to be very less equal in terms of women’s rights and cultural status. As the foundation says, it’s interested in changing perceptions of non-Muslims. Perceptions aren’t reality, and they don’t seem to interested in changing that.

    Moderate religion protects fundamentalist religion, and it promotes and indoctrinates beliefs that can and do lead to harmful irrational beliefs. If you tell people there’s a God, there’s prophets, and the word of God is in a book, and that book is full of bullshit, it’s not going to end well. These people aren’t going to make things better, they’re going to make things worse.

    From the campaign website:

    Muslim women gained full ownership over their money, while husbands had the responsibility to provide for them even if their wives were wealthier.

    That seems like something you’d bring up against Islam. Clearly this is not equal treatment. Are these really women’s rights according to Muhammad? It kind of refutes the previous claim that Muhammad thought that men and women were “equal parts of a pair”. If these seem strange, it’s because in the Koran, next to this, women have to take a submissive role in exchange for a husband’s responsibility. It’s not equal in the sense of equal rights, responsibilities, and freedom.

    How many Muslim women freely cover their heads? People free from coercion, social pressure, and indoctrination are unlikely to. These people don’t even seem to know what freedom and equality are, they’ve been brain washed so badly. Apathy, freedom to explore ideas, and doubts over religion create moderate religious people.

  • Ed

    @ Godless Monster

    In most (admittedly not all) of these cases, the individuals who denounced these acts also qualified their statements by informing us silly westerners as to why these acts were being perpetrated.

    Maybe I am simply too willing to accept the idea of collective responsibility, but I think it is fair to point out the causes and conditions that helped breed an intense hatred of the US. Glenn Greenwald makes some strong points for example. http://www.salon.com/news/opinion/glenn_greenwald/2010/06/22/terrorism/index.html Maybe the timing of the Muslims you mention was wrong, but examining responsibility/causes and conditions is important and ought not negate someone’s opposition or denouncement.
    ————————-
    In light of comments in this thread I wonder about collective responsibility. I accept to a small degree I played and play a role in the gulf oil spill, but really what amount does one individual bear? Just because I drive a car am I as responsible as BP who cut saftey corners or is burning endangered wildlife in the Gulf? Similarly what amount of responsibility ought a moderate Muslim bear for radical Islam? What amount ought a US citizen bear for the dead women and children in Iraq, Pakistan or Afghanistan?

  • RPJ

    This sense of collective guilt, that all Muslims are responsible for the crimes of the radical and violent few, is very similar to the kind of attitude that might lead someone to decide that all Americans were responsible for the crimes of our nation…and therefore deserve to be punished.

    Nobody said anything about collective punishment. But collective responsibility, especially when the act was done in the name of the collective and you fail to denounce it, yes. America as a whole is to blame for the internment of the Japanese during WWII. If this were brought up as a discussion, would you indignantly protest that only an ambiguous few in the government bear any guilt, and the rest of America, which looked the other way for years, is completely innocent?

    The campaign is hardly a surprise, though; theists from any sect share little fundamental differences. You can’t throw a stone without hitting some right-winger decrying a conspiracy of Muslims and homosexuals/marxists/feminists etc. Such pedestrian things as truth, veracity or complication are not the point of their tirades. The aren’t trying to make any legitimate point, they’re just railing against the “bad guys”, knowing that their audiences hate with just as much passion as they do and will willingly swallow any falsehood.

    This is simply the reverse situation – rather than painting “the bad guys” with everything they’re opposed to, they’re painting “the good guys” with everything they’ve realized they should support. Their audiences are just as fervently self-righteous, and will willingly swallow any falsehood.

    God’s beliefs always mirror one’s own.

  • Edmond

    I believe I can talk to birds and ants! So did Muhammad.

  • SickoftheUS

    The Godless Monster wrote:

    In most (admittedly not all) of these cases, the individuals who denounced these acts also qualified their statements by informing us silly westerners as to why these acts were being perpetrated.

    I’m a silly westerner, and even I try to understand and communicate why those acts were perpetrated. As with most things, they were done for reasons, and some of them are pretty damn understandable, if the listener can get past their acculturated tribalism. Reality is reality, and moderate Muslims have as much right as anyone to try to explain.

  • Ama

    I feel like there’s some racist under-pinings to this that haven’t been addressed.

    If you’re going to criticise the concept of head coverings, at least acknowledge that all cultures have sexist notions of dress. It’s not like it’s easy to be a Muslim, maybe the ads aren’t correct but at least they provide a view that depicts Muslims as people, with the same concerns we all share.

    There is no one culture, religion or society in our history that has been perfectly committed to equality.

    While these ads can be argued with direct readings of the scripture… The same can be said of any religion… there should be more emphasis placed on their intent as well as in criticising them. It’s far to easy to treat Islam as a scapegoat and enjoy wailing on them, while ignoring the many problems that exist in other religions and cultures.

    In many ways, they are the ultimate scapegoat. That’s not fair.

  • Scootah

    Masking anti islamic bigotry as pro rationality or pro humanism is pretty repugnant.

    I agree, the idea of a divine creator is ludicrous and the yawehistic cults are all nonsensical in their core beliefs. But of all the religions of the book, Islam gets a harsh deal from this blog.

    Consistantly, the commentary towards islam from this blog fails to recognise that their are moderate muslims and casts all muslims as fundamentalist extremists. The ignorance regarding the actual tennets of Muslim and the actual beliefs of the majority of moderate muslims is offensive when it’s spouted as a position of rationality and clear mindedness. As a humanist, I don’t understand how someone so taken with rationality can be blindly prejudiced regarding a full fifth of the world’s humans.

    From a basic moral point of view, I don’t approve of a number of Mohammed’s purported life choices. If they were taking place today, I’d certainly want the police to beomce involved. But by the standards of the 10th century middle east? Specifically Religious nutters in the 10th century middle east? The reality is that his behaviour was moderate compared to the cultural norms.

    Assuming that their was a ‘Jesus’ as an actual historical figure, the only reason his documented life is less offensive to modern western standards is because we base our standards around what we know of his life, and the christian churches have done a bang up job of tidying up Jesus with some post publication editing.

    I don’t want for a moment to come off as pro-islam. I think it’s a stupid religion. But I don’t think there’s a single valid criticism of Islam that can’t be directed against Jews or Christians. Jews and Christians just have better PR. And the continued ignorance of that fact and the bias against Islam in this blog is really getting old.

  • muggle

    JB Tait, are you on crack? I haven’t worn a skirt or make-up in roughly 25 years and they haven’t come to take me away yet so may I politely ask wtf you’re talking about as regards to women in America.

    There isn’t anywhere I can’t go because I don’t wear a skirt and no one’s called me insane for not wearing make-up. Ever. Honestly, I don’t think people even really notice. Either one. It’s not like it’s weird to see women in pants anymore.

    As far as these ads go, really, they aren’t any worse than ours. Yeah, we disagree with them but there’s nothing wrong with them making them and as someone above said, while it may not be accurate, we do want to encourage the inaccurate interpretation so to speak. You know, like the majority of Christians do.

    (Why am I in italics? God that looks terrible.)

  • http://thegodlessmonster.com/ The Godless Monster

    @Ed,
    Are you implying that “moderate Muslim” leaders do not or should not share in collective responsibility for the actions of more radical Muslims?
    I wasn’t referring to ALL Muslims, you do get that, right?

  • Aj

    Scootah,

    Assuming that their was a ‘Jesus’ as an actual historical figure, the only reason his documented life is less offensive to modern western standards is because we base our standards around what we know of his life, and the christian churches have done a bang up job of tidying up Jesus with some post publication editing.

    Isn’t that a plus for Christianity? Deliberately ignoring the many offensive parts of the New Testament. Hell isn’t even mentioned in some churches, and in others it’s not even a place.

    I don’t want for a moment to come off as pro-islam. I think it’s a stupid religion. But I don’t think there’s a single valid criticism of Islam that can’t be directed against Jews or Christians. Jews and Christians just have better PR. And the continued ignorance of that fact and the bias against Islam in this blog is really getting old.

    You’re going to have to provide some reasoned argument if you’re going to persuade me that the states of each religion in terms of attitudes is similar. According to pew and world opinion poll surveys, a quarter of a billion Muslims support strict sharia law. Adherents to creationism are also at different levels in each of the religions. Popular “scholars” in each religion seem to be saying different things.

  • Guy G

    Does this fix the italics problem?
    It seems so

  • Guy G

    Ah, apparently not. Although after I posted it, the end of my post appeared in non-italics (hence the edit saying “It seems so”). Weird.

  • Ed

    @Ed,
    Are you implying that “moderate Muslim” leaders do not or should not share in collective responsibility for the actions of more radical Muslims?
    I wasn’t referring to ALL Muslims, you do get that, right?

    I get that, and certainly leaders in a community bear more of a responsibility. Nevertheless I don’t see how pointing out causes and conditions is wrong. As I said earlier, in some cases it may have been timed poorly, but voicing their complaints ought not negate their denouncement of violence and terror. As Greenwald points out their grievances matter, have at least some basis in fact, and ought to be considered.

  • Dan

    Weren’t nine-year old married and de-virginized often in that time period because life spans were shorter?

    I’ve been trying to research the history of that area in time and I’m coming up with results which say just that. Though I’m still not familiar enough to know who’s reputable or not.

    It seems that TODAY the age of consent in Bolivia is 9 years old. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ages_of_consent_in_South_America)

    In Brazil it’s 14. Etc…

  • Hitch

    @Dan, Sorry, looking at that very source, it says about Bolivia that pre-puberty rape is especially outrageous. Post puberty it is still a crime, but the sentence is less. From the text it appears that the age of consent in Bolivia is 17. The map colors Bolivia at 14. Basically the wikipedia article is a mixed bag.

    The only countries that per map have age of concent of 9 are: Angola, Guinea Bissau, Yemen, Philipines. No consent age of consent (marriage required) are Saudi Arabia and Oman.

    I think the age of consent issue is a little cloudy. Really this discussion cannot be had without the question of patriarchy. If the society doesn’t really allow free decision making by women, the whole concept of consent is very muddled independent of age.

  • Paul Zimmerle

    It’s worth mentioning that Muhammad did improve women’s rights… for his time. Yes, he put that female poet to death, and yes, he engaged in a bout of pederasty, but that proves that he wasn’t perfect. ;D

  • http://wwww.facebook.com/ttarler Thomas Tarler

    This is my first comment ever on this site, though I’ve been reading it quite a while. It is superbly written, and I though I would add my own thoughts on this post.

    First and foremost, the Islamic world is VERY sensitive about these issues. Last summer, I was fortunate enough to visit the Saudi Arabian embassy, where one of my colleagues was stupid enough to ask a question about the state of women rights in Saudi Arabia. He framed it in a very inflammatory way; something like “I read a new story about women be chained to a radiator in the bathroom and died when the building burnt down…” You get the picture. A young woman next to my group burst into tears, and ran out. Turns out she was the daughter of the ambassador. We had our passport numbers recorded and asked to never enter Saudi Arabia again. Yes, I am banned (for life) from Saudi Arabia due to a poorly framed religious rights question.

    In my 7th grade year, I had the fortunate opportunity to learn about the “modern middle east” which includes many Islamic tennets. Surely, like in modern day Christianity and Judiaism, there are wackos who believe women are inferior to men. Islam, on the other hand isn’t always like this.

    I’ve heard that many woman are forced to be veiled because men don’t trust themselves to control their temptations and not rape woman. Of course it’s oppresion, but you realize that it’s done to PROTECT and not HURT women. At least that is the intent.

    My point being is that there are Muslims who support Social Justice, Human rights, and protecting the environment. They are required to donate a lot of money to charity, are they not? I’m an atheist (like many commentators) and believe the idea of a God to be false, but religions were often shaped to be incorporated into society and promote good will towards others. Don’t fall into the logical fallacy of Black and White; there are shades of gray everywhere.

  • Sideshow Bob

    Can this be reported to the advertising standards agency?

  • http://brazilbrat.blogspot.com/ James Smith João Pessoa, Brazil

    Really, Muslims are no different than other theists. They are hypocrites, liars, and fools. Often all three at the same time.

    A few may sometimes give faint lip service to denounce atrocities committed in the name of Islam, but mostly, even the “moderates” condone even the most extreme actions by their silence.

    The other theists should wake up and see that we are already in WW III. It is the Muslims against everyone else and will not be over until one side or the other are all dead. right now, the Islamic radicals are winning and winning big.

  • http://brazilbrat.blogspot.com/ James Smith João Pessoa, Brazil

    Thomas you say, “My point being is that there are Muslims who support Social Justice, Human rights, and protecting the environment.” Really? Where are they? When did any of them condemn the 9/11 attacks? Which ones have expressed outrage over beheading of kidnapped victims? Who among them has said that rioting over freedom of speech (Mohammad drawings) was wrong? You sound more like a closet muslim than a rational atheist.

  • http://www.sarahtrachtenberg.com Sarah Trachtenberg

    Because we all know how very much Muslim countries support women’s rights… each and every one…
    Based on what I know about Islam and pre-Islamic history, Islam brought about some positive changes for females, but all in all was more of a curse than a blessing.
    What’s wrong with cherry picking? You get a delicious truth pie!

  • Hitch

    @Thomas: There definitely are shades of gray. But regardless, I think your Saudi Arabia story makes the point.

    We really do not need image campaigns for Islam. We need reform. It’s not very helpful to say that some muslims are more egalitarian than others and women’s rights are protected when the reality is that many women’s rights are limited.

    Yes it is in fact true that the narrative of many of the prohibitions of Islam are meant to protect both sexes. The point is, in a free world one can have even ill-articulated views without massive reprisals. And if you can be banned for life from entering a country for being part of a group where someone else(!) make ill-conceived remarks, you can imagine what it is like to be inside the country without much of an option.

    But yes, there are shades of gray. Miss Michigan is a muslima, much to the dismay of many moderate and conservative Muslims even in the US.

  • Bawdybill

    What I have gotten from study of the Abrahamic religions is that there was some serious plagerism, going on from the time of the invention of writing. All BS. On the morality imparted by Jesus I have great doubt anything in the New Testament can rightly be credited to him. What I have noticed most is the gospels are just about total redaction of Pauline doctrine and what Paul taught is what all religious hucksters are teaching and that, too, is BS. Those ads make me wonder what Islamists are smoking; perhaps, like Xian fundamentalists, the don’t read their holy books.

  • http://atheish.wordpress.com/ Tess

    I was going to say something about the woman in the “Woman’s rights” ad, but you pretty much covered it. -_-

  • Tinkie

    I think you are “mistaken”. Islam and what it has evolved into, is not the same. In addition, some Muslims pratice “true” Islam, and others have their “own” version, when passages and ideas are taken out of context.
    You can see the same about Christanity. Christianity has also evolved into something entirely different. For example – profiting from the misery of others. Christians are not supposed to do this, but the majority does.
    I think this is a very hateful blog and intended to divide people and create hate. Not very nice or smart of you….

  • atton conrad

    Damn guys, support good whatever its form may take. Its not like religion is going to exit stage right anytime soon, so support it when it is positive. Im very much a proactive atheist but this is a very unhelpful attitude.

  • Grifter

    I think the REAL problem is that the Muslims haven’t really separated themselves out as the christians have. People don’t hold Christians at large responsible for the idiots at Westboro, because there’s such a clear line of demarcation. “We are Catholic/Protestant/Episcopalian” or whatever, and that sets the line of difference. The protestants aren’t saying much about the Catholic sex scandals, except when they have to, and then they of course condemn it, but nobody finds fault with them for not being more rigorous in opposing it, because they successfully distanced themselves from the catholics centuries ago, so it’s much more clear that they aren’t responsible for their rival denomination’s problems.

    Moderate Muslims have not done the same. There’s no Anglican Mosque where women are Imams. There’s no Protestant Islamic group that lets people convert away from islam without being stoned to death as heretics.
    Until Islam gets their Martin Luthers (not that he was all that great either, but the protest is the point) and own denominations, moderate muslims belong to the same religion as extreme muslims. They’re still saying that muhammed was infallible despite being a pedophile, they still condemn the dutch cartoons (I haven’t heard a SINGLE muslim say ‘that was awful, and my fellow muslims were idiots who should be arrested for their violence. Not a single one. They all made excuses, and still do. They all say freedom of speech is ok, so long as you don’t criticize me. Maybe these people exist. But if they do, show them to me. I want evidence. Because all the evidence I HAVE seen points to them NOT existing.). And that makes them culpable.

    The Jews are similar, in that there aren’t a lot of actual denominations, but there’s Orthodox and Reformed, and the twain don’t meet. So if the Orthodox Jews hire gentiles to push buttons on the sabbath, no one holds the Reformed ones responsible.

    So-called “moderate” muslims aren’t a capitalized section, because they aren’t a coherent lot. One might want to be called moderate because he supports stoning only with small boulders, another because he doesn’t even really believe islam but wants to be called muslim. Until there are codified, separate denominations, then I see nothing wrong wtih holding them all at large for the beliefs they all ostensibly share. (An example: I know several ‘catholics’ who don’t really believe in the infallibility of the pope. Arguably, they’re ‘moderate’ catholics. And they still feel obliged, and should, to apologize for the reprehensible things being done in their name. And another similar circumstance: Americans abroad, who may be vehemently opposed to our government’s decisions, still feel the need to apologize, and should).

    And on a final note: I HATE the people who attempt to bring racism into this. No, I’m not racist because I’m against pedophilia and stoning. NO, I’m not racist because I’m pointing out your flaws. Sorry. And I’m sorry that right now your group has bigger flaws than the other big groups. But don’t try to call me a bigot for it.

    P.S. What’s with the italics? Seriously.

    (Hemant says: Italics fixed!)

  • Gabino Garcia

    Funny things is that all of those things are in the Christian bible too.

  • EatTheRich

    There’s an empirical explanation for everything. A belief in a non-existent being is a virus of the mind. It takes over the host and destroys it whilst attempting to spread to other minds.

    All theists should, therefore, be culled. For the good of us all. We can call it rapture if it’ll make you feel any better.

  • some muslim

    sigh

    People say ‘Why aren’t Muslims doing enough to show that they don’t support terrorism, abuse of women …’

    So Muslims speak out against terrorism, abuse of women, etc.

    then ..

    People say ‘Why aren’t Muslims doing enough to show that they don’t support terrorism, are …’

    So Muslims speak out against terrorism, abuse of women, etc.

    then ..

    People say ‘Why aren’t Muslims doing enough to show that they don’t support terrorism, are …’

    It just keeps going on and on ..

    For those of you asking – this is why moderate muslims like myself just shut the f**k up and find something better to do.