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Amin Refaat's suggestion is definitely impractical and probably incorrect

Reader comment on item: Islamic London: "Run, Hide, Tell"
in response to reader comment: Misinformed

Submitted by Prashant, May 13, 2018 at 17:48

Dear Dr Pipes, At the end of his above message Amin Refaat made a good statement. Amin said: "...The only way to defuse the explosive Jihadi sleepers hiding everywhere waiting for their activation is to confront their false religions and return them to the real peaceful Islam which is the only true religion."

Amin's statement effectively acknowledges what a lot of us have been saying for a long time: Islam needs reform". Amin will probably not agree with the injunction that Islam needs reform and may like to believe that Islam in its original form is absolutely right and the only its Jihadi interpretation is wrong. But I think that many problems of Islam are in its very core and not just in its interpretation. Let me pick some ideas from Amin's message itself to illustrate this point.

Consider the verses of sword. Amin said that verses of sword were just for Muhammad's time and after his death they just become historical records. How do we know that? And how do we know which other parts of Quran should expire after Muhammad's death? And if we do admit the fact that verses of sword applied just to Muhammad then we fall into bigger problem of 'do as I say but do not do as I did'. How do we prevent the followers of Muhammad from doing what he did in his life time? Aren't we supposed to follow everything that he did starting from how he prayed to how he washed his hands?

Amin says that Quran is full of 'free religion rule' in which every one is free to choose his religion. But, again, this claim falls flat when looked in the light of the entire Quranic context. For example, Quran also says that the scriptures of other religions are corrupted words of God and certain practices of other religions are sins. On top of that Quran prescribes that in Muslim lands non-Muslims should live under rules set by Muslims. That is problematic. You call my scriptures wrong, you call my worship sinful and you ask me to live under rules set by you. Then, how do you expect common followers of your religion to treat me well? In fact, these guidelines are exactly the reasons why in all Islamic majority regions, non Muslims are discriminated to the extent that they either convert to Islam or leave the land.

Amin said that Muslims established first civilized state in Medina where people of different religions lived in peace. Excuse me. It was while in Medina that Muslims under permission of Muhammad started to raid the Meccan caravans to collect loot. I will like people to look at the maps of that region. Many of Muhammad's raids on Meccan caravans were at places more than 100 miles away from Muhammad's base in Medina. That is willful destruction and greed. That is not peaceful living. And, yes, in Medina Muhammad initially took Jews and Christians as his allies. The idol-worshipper Meccans were still his enemies whom he robbed. For God's sake, killing and looting of pagan humans is also killing and looting of humans!

Amin said that Muhammad gave clear instructions to not fight except in self defense. I think the bar for religions is a little higher than allowing fights in self defense. For example, Christian ethics tell us to turn the other cheek when you are slapped on one cheek. If you were to fight in self defense, you would slap the attacker back. This standard for religions should be way higher than fighting in self-defense. In Hindu religion war is permitted after long consideration, with huge consensus and for the cause of duty and dharma (righteousness). The Hindu standard is also better than the self defense standard (Suggested reading: Arjuna's dilemma before Mahabharata war). And, self-defense is not very well defined. When Muhammad forces travelled 100+ miles to raid Meccan's caravans, I wont call it self-defense.

In summary, Islam is not just a religion. It is a political and social philosophy as well. And, honestly, all of the political and social parts of Islam are extremely questionable and need to be very thoroughly scrutinized. The five pillars of Islam can form the basis of the religious Islam separate from socio-political Islam. They may be harmless if an individual tries to follow them privately and humbly and preach them politely and does not impose them on others by force.


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