Yes, You Are Taking Those Verses out of Context: A Muslim Responds to Atheist Ali A. Rizvi

Yes, You Are Taking Those Verses out of Context: A Muslim Responds to Atheist Ali A. Rizvi April 10, 2015
Ali Rizvi
Ali Rizvi

“What if there was a book that described Muslims the way the Qur’an describes disbelievers? Heads would roll. Literally” reads the very intriguing thesis statement of an article written by Mr. Ali A. Rizvi that I stumbled across the other day.

The thesis of the article is simply this: Muslims claim to be victims of Islamophobia and feel offended when Islam is criticized in the West, but the very book they hold sacred (Quran) contains much more hate-speech against non-believers.

So, why the double standards, Mr. Rizvi asks?

To begin with, critiquing Islam as an ideology and issuing hate speech against Muslims are two very different things that mustn’t be conflated. Islamophobia (I prefer Muslimophobia) mustn’t be misused as a front to suppress genuine criticisms of how Islam is practiced in the contemporary world, for it affects not only Muslims, but also non-Muslims living in Muslim-majority states.

Critiquing any ideology or a certain set of beliefs, no matter how sacred they are held, should neither  be legally prohibited nor discouraged since that is how humankind progresses. After all, the Quranic doctrine of Jesus not being God but rather a pious messenger of God might seem very offensive to some Christians, too!

However, the pivotal point here is not to conflate offensive speech and hate-speech—which, in my definition of it, is speech that promotes physically harming people for their beliefs, race, sexual orientation, and so on.

Unfortunately, and indeed surprisingly, Mr. Rizvi seems to do just that. In his piece, he quotes certain verses to illustrate how the Quran, if taken “literally”, contains hate speech against non-believers.

And, this essay will examine four of his claims.

 

Claim 1: The Quran calls all non-believers “The worst of beasts”:

“Verily, the worst of beasts in the sight of God are those who conceal (the truth), and do not acknowledge it. These are those whom you have made a peace treaty with, but they break their treaty at every opportunity and have no fear of the law.” (Quran 8:55-56)

Taking verses out of their scriptural and the overall historical context is one thing, but cherry picking a certain phrase of a verse to validate your own prejudices, irrespective to what follows, is, well, not befitting for someone who prides intellectualism so highly.

If the verses in question had only said “The worst of beasts are the non-believers” (case closed), and hadn’t gone on further to specify who exactly was being referred to and in what contextMr. Rizvi would’ve had a slightly better case for the Quran generalizing all non-believers as “worst of beasts”, though it would still not fall under hate speech (but offensive speech).

However, the passage does go on to clarify the cause of their condemnation: not simply because these were some passive non-believers (and hence, the condemnation wouldn’t apply to them), but because they violated a treaty they had agreed to, which resulted in the deaths of many Muslims (who were already an oppressed minority)!

But, let’s just assume for a moment that the passage did indeed call all non-believers “the worst of beasts”. How, I wonder, would that be any different to the following statement made by Mr. Christopher Hitchens, someone who Mr. Rizvi greatly admires?

“Faith is the surrender of the mind; it’s the surrender of reason, it’s the surrender of the only thing that makes us different from other mammals. It’s our need to believe, and to surrender our skepticism and our reason, our yearning to discard that and put all our trust or faith in someone or something, that is the sinister thing to me. Of all the supposed virtues, faith must be the most overrated.”

To claim that billions of religious people today have all surrendered reason (as if they’re all homogeneous), and are no different from other mammals is quite an astonishing and ignorant claim to make. Not choosing sides and staying true to my principles, I would still defend his right to make it, even though I find his sentiment to be unsophisticated.

However, as for you Mr. Rizvi, do you condemn and consider this to be hate speech, as well?

Claim 2: “The reality is, religious moderates take their scripture “out of context” more than they’d like to think. Islamic apologists, for instance, like to quote the verse 2:256, which says there is “no compulsion in religion.” They won’t tell you (and many don’t know themselves) that the very next verse, 2:257, says that those who do choose to disbelieve will be ‘companions of the Fire; they will abide eternally therein.’”

 

Oh, we love that verse! “No compulsion in religion” – so profound, is it not, Mr. Rizvi? But, here’s the thing: these “religious moderates” you consider to be “apologists” highlight that pivotal verse to demonstrate that a punishment for apostasy is something the Quran neither advocates nor endorses. We draw our inspiration from that verse to challenge anti-apostasy laws found in some Muslim majority states, even though it puts our lives and safety at risk.

As far as the latter part of your comment is concerned, I would question: choosing to disbelieve in Islam or the ethical precepts it promotes? I’d certainly argue for the latter (This perspective adds more light to that)!

Here’s what I find hypocritical in your stance, though. If you make the “out of context” argument, it is perfectly reasonable and justified; but when we people of faith make that argument, it suddenly becomes an “excuse” and we are at once labelled “apologists”.

And this seems rather puzzling to me.

Instead of allying with these Muslims who strive for reform, you rather choose to dismiss them. Even from your point of view, being an atheist who believes Islam to be farce, shouldn’t your immediate priority be to encourage a “more humane” interpretation of the “violent text” that is the Quran? Yes, yes, I know you’d prefer getting rid of religion altogether, but let’s be more pragmatic here. I can completely understand you disagreeing with our methodology (that’s fair enough), but to call us “apologists”?

And that makes me question your priorities: Is it really about “the threat that religion poses to the world”, or is it all an exercise in ego-boosting, Mr. Rizvi?

Claim 3:  The Quran—respected and revered by billions worldwide—prescribe the killing of disbelievers (Quran 8:12-1347:4;); order their adherents to fight and enslave those with differing beliefs, a la ISIS (Quran 9:29-30)

 

Now, if that were true, it would indeed be fair to say that the Quran promotes hate speech against non-believers. However, there’s a missing piece in the puzzle.

As it turns out, the Quran never commands Muslims to either persecute or physically attack non-Muslims. The permission to take up arms is only granted under self-defense. This is firmly established by the following two verses, among others, that set the foundation of how to interpret those seemingly “violent verses” in the Quran:

“As for such [of the unbelievers] as do not fight against you on account of [your] faith, and neither drive you forth from your homelands, God does not forbid you to show them kindness and to behave towards them with full equity: for, verily, God loves those who act equitably.

God only forbids you to turn in friendship towards such as fight against you because of [your] faith, and drive you forth from your homelands, or aid [others] in driving you forth: and as for those [from among you] who turn towards them in friendship; it is they, they who are truly wrongdoers!” (Quran 60:8-9)

By making that point, I do not, for a second, intend to brush aside the perpetual violence carried out in the name of Islam by Islamofascist groups such as ISIS. Don’t get me wrong: yes, there is a very serious threat that terrorist organizations such as ISIS pose to the world, and this should, in no way, be ignored.

However, I raise this point because I feel it is nonetheless important to have this discussion since calling them, like you do, “true Muslims who rightly interpret the Quran ‘literally’ instead of ‘liberally’” in fact contributes to their cause and gives them the legitimacy they so crave for. What’s more, by making such statements, we willingly give them the authority to be the sole and genuine voice representing Islam.

And this, in my opinion, is self-defeating.

 

Claim 4: When confronted with these facts, apologists will often respond by saying these texts should not be read “literally”—a concern that is certainly well-founded considering their contents. They know how terrible these books would sound if they weren’t liberally “interpreted” (read: distorted, sanitized), or read the way one would read any other book.

 

Ah, let’s just settle this once and for all. Arguing that the Quran commands Muslims to kill non-believers since a “literal” reading of a verse seems to suggest so is like arguing that the Quran is actually inherently polytheistic because a “literal” reading of a verse that employs the pronoun “We” for God proves it to be so.

Yes, Mr. Rizvi, the point you make really is that absurd. What’s more, a “literal” reading of the Quran as you so fervently suggest would also include acknowledging the Quran’s commandments of  not to take its verses out of context and in a piece-meal fashion, but to rather approach it holistically (Quran – 5:41, 15:91).

So, let’s just acknowledge this: reading the Quran “literally” is not the real issue here, exclusivism is. A certain bias in reading the Quran due to previously formed assumptions about it. As I illustrated in the response to your previous claim, it is, after all, the literal reading of those verses that discredits the notion of Quran promoting aggressive warfare against non-believers and Islamofascist groups like ISIS being Islamic.

It is simply bizarre to cherry pick certain verses (or portions thereof) out of their scriptural context and interpret them in a way that is contradictory to the central message of the Quran only to validate one’s own prejudices; and then to also confidently claim that anyone who differs from such an interpretation is “just making up excuses” and is, in fact, a shameful “apologist”.

It is fairly convenient to do so, but ultimately, is only self-serving.

Conclusion

Mr. Rizvi, I disagree with the way you interpret the Quran, and you disagree with the way I interpret the Quran. This disagreement may last forever, but must we focus only on our differences and ignore the common values we both share?

I truly think that it is pointless in sustaining this polarized “us vs them” narrative for it serves no greater purpose and only creates more barriers between two liberal communities seeking more or less the same goals in life, with or without religion.

Rather, if liberal religionists and liberal atheists choose to focus on their commonalities (which, I believe, are many) without brushing each other off, and instead consider each other as allies striving for the practical pursuit of social justice and freedom of conscience, we could hope to join hands and be a greater force to reckon with.

And, I believe that is the real need of the hour.

[Picture Credit: Purple Canvas Photography]

*Ro Waseem is a reformist Muslim who believes in the power of writing for change. His articles have been published on Huffington Post, Onfaith, Express Tribune, among others. Read more of his articles here.

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  • aliamjadrizvi

    Thank you for this response to my piece. Your arguments, if correct, would make the world a better place, but I think they may be a little too convoluted to be convincing to anyone who can, well, read the Quran or Bible.

    I find that many moderate and progressive Muslims, while claiming that others are taking their sacred book out of context, proceed to change the context completely, almost make it up, as you seem to be doing here. I think my argument still stands.

    As for the Hitchens quote, he’s criticizing faith. Faith is not a person, it doesn’t have rights, feelings, and is not entitled to respect. In contrast, betweent them the Quran and Bible directly command killing, crucifying, stoning, beating, and condemning certain human beings — real people — to eternal damnation.

  • Mohd Aqbar

    As per research, it is clear to say that ISIS as what you believe is the real Muslims practicing the true Islam. This is what you believed after you read the Quran and this is mean that both you and ISIS are at par in level of thinking, but since you are not a muslim, you are safe from becoming like them. Thank God.

  • Ali, I agree with Ro here. You and ISIS share the same reading of the Quran while we moderate/reformist Muslims read the Quran in its proper context and meaning.

    Let’s say you and ISIS are right, the fact that you are hesitant to defend your position in a debate completely exposes your unintellectual and prejudiced position. Like you, ISIS also are scared to meet us on the debate table.

    I would like to invite you once again to debate your position with me openly. Its been 5 months you keep refusing to engage me in defense of your and ISIS’s narrative on Islam

    Challenge: http://kashifmd.com/2015/01/12/challenging-anti-theist-ali-rizvi-to-a-debate-on-blasphemy-laws/

    I always ask extremists on both ends to let go of their stubbornness. I hope you change your mind and agree to engage in dialogue, as we moderate/liberal theists and atheists do. But I bet you’ll refuse and run away again. Surprise me.

  • Marcion

    I’m going to basically repost something I said a couple threads ago because it seems relevant whenever claims about the conetext of the quran come up:

    You might claim that the unbelievers referred to in these verses are only the unbelievers Muhammad has a problem with, but I’m not particularly impressed by the claims that the nastiest parts of the quran are only about very particular
    groups in 7th century Arabia and not meant to be generalizations. If these are only about Muhammad’s political opponents, why are they referred to exclusively in
    religious terms? Why not at least mention their non-religious identities unless
    you’re trying to make a larger point about members of certain religions?

  • Proudscalawag

    And I’ll agree with the conclusion.

  • MichaelElwood

    LOL! Ali A. Rizvi thinks he’s being oh-so-clever by quoting the Quran in his article while substituting a few words. So, let me return the favor. Suppose some of the most prominent Muslim intellectuals said the following:

    “I think that we are at war with atheism. And there’s no middle ground in wars. Atheism can be defeated in many ways. For starters, you stop the spread of the ideology itself; at present, there are atheists who are former Muslims, and they’re the most fanatical sometimes. There is infiltration of atheism in the schools and universities of the Muslim World. You stop that. You stop the blasphemous books and the satirical cartoons, and you look them in the eye and flex your muscles and you say, ‘This is a warning. We won’t accept this anymore.’ There comes a moment when you crush your enemy.”

    And,

    “We are at war with atheism. It may not serve our immediate foreign policy objectives for our political leaders to openly acknowledge this fact, but it is unambiguously so. It is not merely that we are at war with an otherwise peaceful ideology that has been ‘hijacked’ by extremists. We are at war with precisely the vision of life that is prescribed to all atheists in The End of Faith. . . . . ”

    Would Ali A Rizvi consider the quotes above “hate speech”? What if a book—respected and revered by millions of Muslims worldwide—prescribed the torture of atheists and the killing of whoever Muslims believe to espouse dangerous propositions:

    “Fearing that the above reflection on torture may offer a potent argument for pacifism, I would like to briefly state why I believe we must accept the fact that violence (or its threat) is often an ethical necessity. . . .”

    And,

    “Some propositions are so dangerous that it may even be ethical to kill people for believing them.”

    Would Ali A. Rizvi consider the above quotes “hate speech”? I’m sure he and other atheists would. They’ve considered less bellicose statements as hate speech. The problem is that the first two quotes aren’t from prominent Muslim intellectuals, but from prominent atheist ones. Namely, Rizvi’s BFFs Ayaan Hirsi Ali and Sam Harris. I just substituted “atheism” for “Islam,” “ideology” for “religion,” and “atheists who are former Muslims” for “Westerners converting to Islam” in the first quote. And I substituted “ideology” for “religion” and “The End of Faith” for the “Koran” in the second quote.

    And, of course, the third and fourth quotes aren’t from a book respected and revered by millions of Muslims worldwide, but a book respected and revered by millions of atheists worldwide. Namely, Harris’ book The End of Faith.

    Atheist apologists like Ali A. Rizvi have 1001 excuses for why Muslims shouldn’t consider this hate speech. “Er, um, they’re not talking about Muslims, but Islam,” they say. “Well, you see, what had happened was, their words were taken out of context,” they say without the slightest bit of irony. “Atheists don’t consider The End of Faith sacred the way Muslims consider the Quran sacred,” they say. And on and on and on.

    And when atheists like Craig hicks act on bellicose quotes like these and murders Muslims, atheist apologists like Rizvi are quick to assure us that it was just a parking dispute and had nothing to do with atheism:

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/ali-a-rizvi/why-atheists-like-me-grie_b_6666690.html

    And when atheists like Jacques Chaillou acts on bellicose quotes like these and shoots at and throw grenades at a mosque, atheist apologists are quick to assure us that it has nothing to do with atheism.

    When the literal word of prominent atheists requires repeated, long-winded explanations from their groupies simply to prevent it from being interpreted to mean what it actually says, it doesn’t make a great case for their supposed intellectual and moral superiority. If anything can mean anything, the whole thing becomes meaningless.

    I think Rizvi’s time would be better spent crusading against hate speech in atheist literature instead of on “hate speech” in the Quran.

  • MichaelElwood

    Ali A. Rizvi wrote: “Your arguments, if correct, would make the world a better place, but I think they may be a little too convoluted to be convincing to anyone who can, well, read the Quran or Bible.”

    I find them convincing. . . . and I’ve read the Quran. And it isn’t just Muslims (apologist or non-apologist) who find your caricature of the Quran unconvincing. I pointed out in an article I wrote that even some of your fellow atheists like Joshua Oxley don’t find your caricature of the Quran convincing:

    http://www.loonwatch.com/2014/12/strange-bedfellows-extremists-bigots-and-the-quran/

    Ali A. Rizvi wrote: “I find that many moderate and progressive Muslims, while claiming that others are taking their sacred book out of context, proceed to change the context completely, almost make it up, as you seem to be doing here. I think my argument still stands.”

    “Moderate” Muslims say that people like you take verses out of context, because you do take them out of context. For example, you claimed that the Quran prescribes the killing of disbelievers (Quran 8:12-13, 47:4). However, the CONTEXT of these verses makes it clear that it’s not talking about all disbelievers, but only those who had attacked Muhammad and the Muslims:

    “The disbelievers plot and scheme to neutralize you, or kill you, or banish you. However, they plot and scheme, but so does GOD. GOD is the best schemer” [Quran 8:30]

    “Many a community was much stronger than the community that evicted you from your town; when we annihilated them, no one could help them.” [Quran 47:13]

    “Therefore, you shall not waver and surrender in pursuit of peace, for you are guaranteed victory, and GOD is with you. He will never waste your efforts.” [Quran 47:35]

    You claimed that the Quran orders its adherents to fight and enslave those with differing beliefs, a la ISIS (Quran 9:29-30). However, the CONTEXT of this verse makes it clear that it’s a DESCRIPTION of a battle that happened over a thousand years ago, not a PRESCRIPTION for some future battle. How do I know this? Because the battle it’s referring to, Hunayn, is mentioned only a few verses earlier:

    “GOD has granted you victory in many situations. But on the day of Hunayn, you became too proud of your great number. Consequently, it did not help you at all, and the spacious earth became so straitened around you, that you turned around and fled.” [Quran 9:25]

    It’s also clear from the CONTEXT that this verse is referring to defensive warfare and not offensive warfare (i.e., attacking someone just because they’re “disbelievers”):

    “Would you not fight people who violated their treaties, tried to banish the messenger, and they are the ones who started the war in the first place. . . .” [Quran 9:13]

    “If you fail to support him (the messenger), GOD has already supported him. Thus, when the disbelievers chased him, and he was one of two in the cave, he said to his friend, “Do not worry; GOD is with us.” GOD then sent down contentment and security upon him, and supported him with invisible soldiers. He made the word of the disbelievers lowly. GOD’s word reigns supreme. GOD is Almighty, Most Wise.” [Quran 9:40]

    You claimed that Muslims won’t tell you (and many don’t know themselves) that verse 2:257 says that those who choose to disbelieve will be “companions of the Fire; they will abide eternally therein.” But why are you pretending to be worried about an event that takes place in an afterlife that you don’t believe in? And when did atheists like you develop an aversion to threats? Wasn’t it your BFF, Sam Harris, who said:

    “Fearing that the above reflection on torture may offer a potent argument for pacifism, I would like to briefly state why I believe we must accept the fact that violence (or its threat) is often an ethical necessity. . . .”

    And you claimed that in verse 5:33, Allah wants anyone opposing him or his messenger to “be killed or crucified…their hands and feet be cut off from opposite sides,” for “causing corruption.” However, it’s clear that this verse isn’t telling Muslims kill people for simply rejecting Islam. Edip Yuksel and Martha Schulte-Nafeh write in their footnote for 5:33:

    “The repeated use of the passive voice is not a coincidence; it is to indicate that the acts are not instructions, but statements of fact. In other words, those who roam the earth to promote and commit atrocities and bloodshed are going to get what they promote. Those who live by the sword die by the sword. The Arabic word fasad means destruction, mischief, discord, warmongering or corruption. It is frequently contrasted with islah and its derivatives, which mean reform or promoting peace (7:56). Fasad is not mere faith or opinion; it refers to the acts of corruption or aggressive and destructive actions (See 2:30; 5:64; 10:91; 18:94; 21:22; 22:40; 28:4; 33:71; 89:12; 2:256, and 4:140). The Bible has a similar statement: ‘those who kill by the sword must die by the sword.’ See Matthew 26:52 ; Revelation 13:10 . Also see the Quran 9:3.”

    And, once again, it’s clear from this verse’s CONTEXT that there is no justification for aggression against others:

    “O you who believe. . . . Do not be provoked into aggression by your hatred of people who once prevented you from going to the Sacred Masjid. . . .” [Quran 5:2]

    “O you who believe. . . . Do not be provoked by your conflicts with some people into committing injustice.. . . .” [Quran 5:8]

    Did you really believe that you could just lie indefinitely about what the Quran says and not get caught?

  • Marcion

    Crucifixion and mutilation aren’t natural consequences of anything, someone has to actively choose to do them. In what context is it acceptable to decide to cut off people’s limbs and torture them to death?

    As for the threats of hellfire, fantasizing about burning people forever because they don’t have have right religious belief seems pretty hateful to me.

  • Multiple readings of the Koran are possible, including a more moderate one like the author of this post is advocating for, as well as a more fundamentalist interpretations like the one Rizvi offers. To deny the authenticity of either one is a mistake.
    The fact that there are equally valid interpretations of Islam should come as no surprise. One can find the same sort of competing interpretations occurring in Christianity and Judaism, and probably any other religious belief with a significant following.
    Both the Islamic State fundamentalist and the progressive moderate have equally valid claims to the title “true Muslim.”

  • aliamjadrizvi

    Important difference: none of the quotes you cited are by people that all atheists consider infallible, divinely appointed, or of unquestionable, God-given authority. Muslims, though – even progressive ones – do consider Muhammad all three of those things.

    Muhammad had sex with a nine-year-old girl. Thomas Jefferson had sex with a 14-year-old girl. No one defends this act of Jefferson – everyone accepts it was wrong – because he didn’t claim infallibility. But even moderate Muslims defend Muhammad’s child marriage “in the context of that time” or for other bizarre reasons. This is the key difference. I have never heard a believing Muslim say, ever, that this was a screwup on Muhammad’s part. You’ll never hear it.

    In the rationalist world, I can disagree with Chomsky, many atheists disagree with Hitchens on the Iraq war, and a lot of atheists vehemently disagree with what Ayaan Hirsi Ali has to say about a range of topics. Difference? The argument is on chat forums and podiums and in living rooms.

    Credit to the 0.056% of the Muslim population that lives in North America for not going crazy and violent over these things. Thankfully, they’ve learned from living in a secular society and follow their scripture only nominally.

  • MichaelElwood

    Ali A. Rizvi wrote: “Important difference: none of the quotes you cited are by people that all atheists consider infallible, divinely appointed, or of unquestionable, God-given authority. Muslims, though – even progressive ones – do consider Muhammad all three of those things.”

    Muslims believe that God appointed Muhammad to be a prophet. The other two things you mentioned (i.e., infallible and unquestionable) are canards peddled by two-bit atheist polemicists. They attribute these things to Muhammad in order to contrast the supposedly dynamic and progressive nature of atheism with the supposedly static and regressive nature Islam. However, the Quran tells us that Muhammad was just a man and that he had foibles too:

    “. . . .’I am no more than a human like you, being inspired that your god is one god. Those who hope to meet their Lord shall work righteousness, and never worship any other god beside his Lord.'” [Quran 18:110]

    “. . . .’I am no more than a human being like you, who has been inspired that your god is one god. You shall be devoted to Him, and ask His forgiveness. Woe to the idol worshipers.'” [Quran 41:6]

    “He (Muhammad) frowned and turned away. When the blind one came to him. How do you know? He may purify himself. Or he may take heed, and benefit from the message. As for the rich man. You gave him your attention. Even though you could not guarantee his salvation. The one who came to you eagerly. And is really reverent. You ignored him. Indeed, this is a reminder. Whoever wills shall take heed.” [Quran 80:1-12]

    A legend that comes down to us illustrates Muhammad’s ability to make mistakes and the fact that Muslims aren’t required to follow everything he did:

    “It was narrated from Simak that the heard Musa bin Talhah bin `Ubaidullah narrating that his father said: “I passed by some palm trees with the Messenger of Allah and he saw some people pollinating the trees. He said: ‘What are these people doing?’ They said: ‘They are taking something from the male part (of the plant) and putting it in the female part.’ He said: ‘I do not think that this will do any good.’ News of that reached them, so they stopped doing it, and their yield declined. News of that reached the Prophet and he said: ‘That was only my thought. If it will do any good, then do it. I am only a human being like you, and what I think may be right or wrong. But When I tell you: ‘Allah (SWT) says,’ I will never tell lies about Allah (SWT).’”

    http://sunnah.com/urn/1267880

    You claim that Muslims believe that Muhammad is unquestionable. Yet, question and argue with Muhammad was exactly what Muslims–a woman no less–did during his lifetime (see 58:1). And, of course, if Muhammad was beyond question, there would be no need for him to consult with his followers (see 3:159).

    Ali A. Rizvi wrote: “Muhammad had sex with a nine-year-old girl.”

    No, he didn’t:

    https://truthhazratayesha.wordpress.com/

    Ali A. Rizvi wrote: “Thomas Jefferson had sex with a 14-year-old girl. No one defends this act of Jefferson – everyone accepts it was wrong – because he didn’t claim infallibility.”

    Everyone accepts that it’s wrong? Didn’t the prominent atheists Richard Dawkins say that there’s nothing wrong with a little “mild pedophilia”?:

    http://www.salon.com/2013/09/10/richard_dawkins_defends_mild_pedophilia_says_it_does_not_cause_lasting_harm/

    Wait, lemme guess, atheist apologists will tell us that his words were taken out of context. And they’ll tell us that atheists don’t see him as infallible or unquestionable, so it doesn’t matter. And we shouldn’t read anything into the fact that his opinions about pedophilia hasn’t diminished his stature or influence among atheists.

    Ali A. Rizvi wrote: “But even moderate Muslims defend Muhammad’s child marriage ‘in the context of that time’ or for other bizarre re asons. This is the key difference. I have never heard a believing Muslim say, ever, that this was a screwup on Muhammad’s part. You’ll never hear it.”

    Really? I’ve never heard “moderate Muslims” defend child marriage. And I think the reason you’ll never hear them say it was a screwup on Muhammad’s part is because they tend not to put much stock in those contradictory tales about Aisha’s age.

    Ali A. Rizvi wrote: “In the rationalist world, I can disagree with Chomsky, many atheists disagree with Hitchens on the Iraq war, and a lot of atheists vehemently disagree with what Ayaan Hirsi Ali has to say about a range of topics. Difference? The argument is on chat forums and podiums and in living rooms.”

    It’s easy for atheists in the “rationalist world” to disagree with Noam Chomsky because he’s an iconoclast among atheists (like Max Blumenthal, Joshua Oxley, etc.). However, it’s not so easy for “many atheists,” or “a lot of atheists,” to be seen vehemently disagreeing with celebrity atheists like Ayaan Hirsi Ali, Sam Harris, Richard Dawkins, Niall Ferguson, Bill Maher, etc. You strike me as more of a yes-man than a vehement disagreer. You certainly haven’t done a whole lot of vehement disagreeing when you’re hobnobbing it with Sam Harris.

    Ali A. Rizvi wrote: “Credit to the 0.056% of the Muslim population that lives in North America for not going crazy and violent over these things. Thank fully, they’ve learned from living in a secular society and follow their scripture only nominally.”

    And credit to the handful of atheists here in North America for not following the example of their fellow atheists in North Korea and China. Thankfully, they don’t follow the advice given in The End of Faith.

  • mike3

    so Muhammad was a prophet?
    too bad muslims aren’t, not following the example of Muhammad. we see the Islamic State destroying ancient artifacts. destroying 5,000 year-old Buddha’s and now Samarians (some sort of ancient artifacts in Iraq) stuff.
    anyway more importantly, is, was Muhammad infallible?

  • El Cid

    “Muhammad had sex with a nine-year-old girl.

    Evidence?
    Cite your reference please…

    And is not being an Agnostic a logical position? State your logic/reasoning/hypothesis for being an Atheist.

  • Faraz Talat

    >”Taking verses out of their scriptural and the overall historical context is one thing, but cherry picking a certain phrase of a verse to validate your own prejudices….not befitting for someone who prides intellectualism so highly.”

    Are you referring to the “No compulsion in religion” verse chanted repetitively by the apologists?

    Please. We’re not illiterate. We can read stuff and find out for ourselves whether it’s offensive or not. Don’t say “crucify” and tell me you meant “banana”.

  • this is a notable video on #Apostasy in #Islam! Do watch in
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    video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yJNrHv9RCD0

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  • ryan

    A criticism of faith as an unreliable epistemology is not “hate speech” – are you serious? Ironically the very fact that you have to spend so much time telling fundamentalists they have their theology wrong demonstrates the uselessness of the holy book (of faith).

    Unfortunately ISIS and Saudi Arabia and countries with blasphemy laws are not as enlightened as you. I personally find “faith” (the idea you can trust something on no evidence) to be dangerous, because when the people wielding it are not as nice of a guy as you…you get ISIS, you get Westboro Baptist Church, you get Mike Huckabee, you get Hindu Nationalists.

    The Qur’an says nonbelievers will roast alive and it asserts it on no evidence. I would say, yeah, that’s hate speech.

  • Aegon Targaryen

    Muhammad has been described as a Man, as pointed out earlier. I do not recall him being depicted as infallible in Quran but I do see verses calling him a Man as pointed out by Michael Already. And Muhammad has made mistakes which is all the more reason to say he was prone to err like the rest of us. The Satanic verses phenomena? The example given by Michael? And you do realize that the 5000 years old buddha was cultural heritage of Afghan People which was destroyed by Taliban. So who suffered a loss? You, a stranger on far side of the world? Or the Muslim Afghan People? If Islam wanted the buddhas to be demolished, wonder how did they survive till Taliban era? Islam has been in Afghanistan since the 700s AD right? Pretty long time! And now ISIS is destroying heritage of MUSLIM and CHRISTIAN and YAZIDI Iraqi people and somehow you believe you are the one who is suffering , not them. The real victims of ISIS are represented by their oppressors in your eyes. Absurd!

  • mike3

    when have I claimed suffering. your hyperbole is hilarious.
    let me ask you this. there are what? 50,000 ISIS fighters. there are 1.5 billion muslims. if less than half are males, let’s say 700 million. then you divide the males into 5ths. 0-19 – 20- 39 etc. even though their aren’t that many 80-99 year olds. anyway, there would be 140 million men of fighting age. so if only 10% of them would volunteer to fight that would be 14 million. or just 1% would be 140 thousand.
    sounds like pretty good odds. especially backed with air power.

  • Fauzan Meidireza

    So, in return, how do we know if we don’t take the *good verses* out of context? Why is it only the *bad verses* that get taken out of context? This has always been amusing.