This essay is meant to be a primer on a series in which I analyse the thoughts of Muslim Dissenters whom I define as atheists, agnostics or ex-Muslims who still maintain links to the Islamic cultural matrix. Contrary to what the title suggests, I actually welcome their presence in Islamic discourse. It is only through open conversations that we may refine our understanding of our own faith. It is also a religious matter that we help protect them from all those who wish them harm. This is no less than a Quranic principle – freedom of belief (Chapter 10 Verses 99-100). There is no such thing as the ‘apostasy law’ even if you subscribe to the Islamic tradition (which I decidedly do not). The Quran should be the primary source of law to the Traditionalist and it clearly gives that unconditional freedom. Nothing should abrogate that.
Having said all the above, there definitely is a need for us to have peaceful engagement with them. We must vociferously analyse their arguments to see if they are indeed veracious and can stand the test of reason. After all, the title of the most infamous book on Muslim dissent out there is ‘The Atheist Muslim’ by my Facebook friend, Ali A. Rizvi. The subtitle of his book is ‘a journey from religion to reason’. What this implies or rather insinuates is that religion is devoid of reason and that the journey towards atheism involves the use of reason to dispel myths. This is clearly a privileged view of reason but it is not atypical of the New Atheist movement (whom I term as ‘Atheo-fascists’). They see themselves as the prophets (pardon the pun) of reason and science as opposed to the ‘irrationality’ and ‘myth’ of religion. Sadly, this is only a superficial selling point but nonetheless does work very well.
Let us analyse Rizvi’s subtitle for a start. How does his reasoning work in this case? If one analyses his anecdotes (and they are anecdotes, nothing scientific about them), they depict stories which can be reduced to this principle. If there is a God, then He could have not authored the suffering afflicted upon humanity and so there cannot be a God.
This is a logical pathway. It fails to factor in several elements. For example, what makes us think that all this ‘suffering’ is not a test? After all, for people who don’t suffer, lead perfectly healthy and fulfilling lives, death still awaits them! I’m pretty sure atheists have died too and not all of them peacefully! And how do we know that these deaths were not meant to teach us a life lesson? After all, our characters are built through putting ourselves through tests. What Ali’s anecdotes tell us is of an entitled mindset. God created me and so He must look after me and give me a cushy lifestyle. Any ‘bad’ thing in the world must mean He does not exist. I wonder if Ali’s world has him being fed from a culinary assembly line 24/7!
And let us ask this question, in the Atheist’s definition of the word ‘religion’ which can be understood as unscientific, irrational dogma, can Atheism itself not be reduced to a religion? After all, it does rely on metaphysical assumptions. Can any Atheist tell us that we need to be preying upon the weak (as nature does) and weed out those who are unfit (like the opening scene of the movie 300). Not even Richard Dawkins would be foolish enough to openly say it. Therefore, Atheism does involve a few ‘leaps of faith’ but like blind religionists, they like the pretence of objectivity.
So as you can see, ‘reason’ is not the sole ownership of anyone. It simply depends on the hypotheses one feeds into the logical system, much like any computer. If anything, Rizvi’s deduction was pretty much two dimensional. However, given the followers he has on FB, one can see that this sells very well, especially with the many haters of Islam. One must even wonder if Richard Dawkins has actually read his book as Dawkins’ review is actually on the cover! It is this kind of abysmal ‘scholarship’ which stokes the fires of racial hatred.
In the coming essays, I shall be debunking more elements from Ali Rizvi’s book as well as other thoughts by Muslim dissenters.