Every once in a while, I have a disheartening encounter online with a virulently anti-Islamic person. It’s especially discouraging when that virulently anti-Islamic person is a Latter-day Saint.
I had such an online encounter just now, this evening, with two very ardent critics of Islam. It occurred on some sort of LDS-oriented “constitutionalist” Facebook page belonging to a woman named Lisa H. Smith, who was one of those involved in the discussion that concluded just a few minutes ago.
I was invited to the discussion by a third person. The other of the two anti-Islamic folks, Daniel Cox, responded to that invitation before I arrived by describing me as “a hack that denies the realities of Islam” and declaring that he “really question[s] [my] motivations.”
He’s obviously a very perceptive fellow. Maybe my extreme anti-Mormon critics are wrong in thinking that I earn my living by lying about the claims of the Restoration, either via gold bullion from the Church or from the donations of gullible supporters of the Interpreter Foundation, or from some combination of the two. Maybe I actually earn my living by lying about Islam! Perhaps I’m on the payroll of the Muslim Brotherhood or of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps. In any event and whatever the case, I’m plainly a lying mercenary hack. Clearly, there’s common ground here.
Anyhow, the conversation went somewhat along the following lines after I arrived:
Sister Smith and Brother Cox asserted that Islam teaches that non-Muslims are subhumans who should be either killed or enslaved. Sister Smith told me that the Qur’an teaches that women are good only to be raped. She had read it herself in the Qur’an, or something like that.
I pointed out that these claims are untrue. There have always been Christians in the Islamic world — majorities for the first several centuries, minorities since roughly the twelfth century — and they obviously haven’t all been murdered or enslaved.
I also pointed out that the Qur’an doesn’t say that women deserve nothing but to be raped. Quite to the contrary, it has detailed rules on inheritance for women, on marriage and divorce, and so forth.
Brother Cox recommended two fairly brief videos on the history of Islam by a non-specialist anti-Muslim. In my turn, I recommended two excellent books (among many that might have been mentioned) on the history of Islam:
Sister Smith declared that she would not read them.
Sister Smith further explained that she had nearly been raped by a Muslim once, and said, if I understood her correctly, that he had cited a religious justification.
I responded that, while I regretted that she had been obliged to endure such an experience, she should not generalize from it to the entirety of Islam, Islamic civilization, and the Islamic world.
She demanded to know whether I had ever been sexually assaulted in the name of someone’s god. I indicated that I had not, but that many FLDS women apparently have — and that their horrible stories no more reflect on the Restoration than her story, as such, reflects on Islam as a whole.
She answered that I was discounting her experience, and then she shut the exchange down and blocked me from viewing her Facebook page.
I had not discounted Sister Smith’s experience. But she plainly discounted mine. I don’t claim that my decades of study and teaching about Islam, and my years of residence in Islamic countries, and my numerous visits to the Islamic world, my many visits in mosques and with Islamic leaders, and my knowledge of the principal Islamic languages, and my intensive study of the Qur’an, and so forth, make me infallible on those or any other subjects. But — and perhaps this is sheer arrogance on my part — I think that maybe they should count for something when the topic of discussion is Islam.