Criticism & prejudice: trying to understand Islam


‘Islamophobic!’ is directed at anyone it would seem, who has any criticism of Islam.

In light of the rise of the Islamic State (formerly ISIS) in Northern Iraq and its intolerant ideologies, ‘moderate’ and ‘mainstream’ Muslims, as well as many non-Muslims have stressed the peaceful nature of ‘true’ Islam.

Deflecting criticism away from Islam’s holy texts, moralistic commentators—many non-Muslim—often compare the words and actions of the Prophet Muhammad to massacres in the Old Testament committed by the Israelites. It is argued that just as ‘mainstream’ Christians and Jews do not act according to many old teachings now, likewise the Islamic world for the most part does not either, and thus certain aspects of their religious texts and traditions can be ignored just as Christians pick and choose those bits of Scripture which suit this time and place.

At face value, this comparison seems fair. Christians—I can’t speak for Jews—adapt their Bible to make it more palatable, so why shouldn’t Muslims?

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Deadly opinions & the Islamic State


ISIS militants wave a flag in Iraq


The violence in Northern Iraq is terrible. That’s my opinion, but is it ‘true’?

Being entitled to your opinion is something we hear a lot about at the moment and normally it isn’t a matter of life and death.

Something else we hear is that what’s true for one person doesn’t have to be true for someone else. Two completely different opinions, and yet they can both be true at the same time.

The danger with claiming that all opinions are valid and true is that in so doing we may be losing the meaning of ‘true’ itself. If everything is true, does that mean nothing is?

I’m writing this because of IS, the Islamic State, a ‘terrorist army’ of militant Muslims with an unpleasant opinion about what Islam means who are threatening genocide as we speak. The point of this post isn’t to get bogged down in what ‘true’ Islam means, but rather to ask us in the West how we’re going to respond. Continue reading