About Face: Who Speaks on Behalf of Australia’s Muslims?

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull hosted an Iftar dinner celebrating Ramadan at Kirribilli House in Sydney on Thursday 16 June 2016. Guests included broadcaster Waleed Aly and his wife Susan Carland. Picture: Andrew Meares / Fairfax Media

The inclusion of prominent Australian Muslim clerics with reprehensible views in Malcolm Turnbull’s recent end of fasting celebration (Iftar) during Ramadan has the potential to precipitate a long-overdue conversation: what do mainstream Muslims in Australia really think?

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Thinking About the West

Western civilization is adrift in the world of ideas. Uncoupled from religion for over a century, the Judeo-Christian ethical tradition which endured—albeit, once it had been absorbed into a secular, modernist rationale—is under existential threat from within. The Twitter-lynching of Chris Gayle, the asylum seeker crisis in Europe and connected sexual violence in Cologne and other cities on New Year’s Eve, and the increasing frequency of attacks by Islam-inspired jihadists are all in their own and disparate ways symptoms of the same ailment.

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Fighting ISIS, Grappling With Islam

ramadi

Whether or not violent Islamists represent the ‘true’ Islam is beside the point: they kill and die believing that they do. Logic decrees that the key weapons will never be cruise missiles and drones. Rather, the most potent strategy hangs on a keen and clear-minded willingness to understand what motivates such actions and goals.

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The Conversation that Isn’t

gagged speech

Islam-is-violence or Islam-is-peace? Take your pick because there is no third option available to those who would like to see debate and policy based on a rational, informed and unbiased approach to Islam’s history and interpretations

As attacks inspired by Islamist ideology continue to erupt around the globe — Paris, San Bernardino, Africa, stick a pin the map and stayed tuned– the tourniquet on the Islam-and-terrorism conversation is tight and getting tighter. The popularity of #YouAintNoMuslimBruv, in response to the London Underground stabbings, bolstered by President Obama’s latest glib insistence that ‘ISIL does not speak for Islam’, highlight just how, since 9/11 and earlier, the West has imposed tacit and active restrictions on what can and cannot be said about Islam and its multiple interpretations.
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Evolution, Galileo & God

Something that should have been mentioned in the first post in this series on atheism and Christianity is that I don’t think rational arguments—like those Jesse and I are attempting to make—are in themselves enough to lead one to a Christian faith. Alister McGrath says it much better than I can, so I’ll let him explain:

Rational argument does not create belief, but it maintains a climate in which belief may flourish. To demonstrate the reasonableness of faith does not mean proving every article of faith. Rather, it means showing that there are good grounds for believing that these are trustworthy and reliable. It also means showing that the Christian faith makes sense of what we observe and experience.

So it’s with this in mind that I engage in this debate; not under some expectation that the arguments themselves have enough power to convince, but rather in the hope that the debate may remove obstacles to faith.

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