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"understand Islam before you can criticize it"

Reader comment on item: Arabist Snobs

Submitted by Josh (United States), Nov 25, 2011 at 02:08

Dear Dr Pipes:

You are right in your criticism of the people who assert that one must completely understand Arabic language and culture and the religion of Islam before criticizing them. I think the position that a complete understanding of Islam is necessary for even a basic criticism is absurd for many reasons. I will mention just two.

The first reason is hypocrisy. Islamic theology finds fault with every non-Islamic doctrine. Jews are bad because they follow a corrupted version of the God's word, Christians are infidels because they have deviated form pure monotheism. Others religions like Hinduism are not even worth a mention-- they are just pure epitomes of unquestionable sins. How much understanding did the originators of Islam show to other religions before declaring them false? And if they show so little understanding for others, why do they demand so much understanding? Hypocrisy?

Secondly, complete understanding if any system by anyone is impossible. Even a native speaker of Arabic is limited by his intelligene and abilities to understand Islam fully. So the demand that a person should fully understand the Arabic language and Islam before criticising them constitute an essentially impossible demand to meet and, thus, provide to islamists an argument that cannot be defeated.

The truth remains that the Islamic doctrine and practice violate certain principles valued highly by others. And, it does not take a significant study to object to this violation.


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