Posts Tagged ‘ Nathan Lean ’

Nathan Lean does it again: Being an Apologist for a Bad Ideology

At soLean Dawkinsme point in history, the liberals in the West decided that Christianity, particularly Catholicism, was no longer beyond reproach. Since then, the religion has endured (not unreasonably so) a constant barrage of verbal and literary assaults.

And they succeeded. They dethroned Christianity and brought in, to our collective elation, the secular values that they now hold dear.

But the same must not happen in the Islamic world. When people like Richard Dawkins attempt to catalyze the rationalist uprising in the Muslim-majority countries, people like Nathan Lean insist that it’s racist. It was okay for them to pound on Christianity and rid themselves of its yoke, but we just have to find a way to get along with our Islamic oppressors.

Living as a minority in what is a quintessentially Islamic country (about 97% of the population of Pakistan is Muslim, and all laws are subject to approval by Islamic experts), I must impress on how little Nathan Lean knows what he’s talking about. The idea proposed by modernized Muslims and Western liberals is that Islam is a diverse religion, and not all Muslims believe in the same set of principles…which is absolutely true!

Here’s the thing though: if Islam is not represented by those who circumcise girls, kill unbelievers, murder my fellow “apostates”, stone and lash people to death, and allow wife-beating….

…then Islam is also not represented by the peace-loving, modernized Muslims. For them to claim that their benign version of the religion is more authentic than the Islam of the Taliban, Al-Qaeeda and garden-variety kufar-haters, would mean for them to deny the religion’s diverse nature which they always talk about.

What we do instead is look at the bigger picture; of what it has contributed to the world, and what it has stolen from it. Compared to a control group, we consider its propensity to generate intolerance, bigotry and chaos. Compared to any other literature, we consider the scripture’s susceptibility to violent interpretations. Not all its followers, not even a majority, are malevolent. But we do note the tendency of this belief system to inspire hate and malice at a rate higher than what could normally be expected.

Old Testament too has more than its fair share of abominably violent dicta, and Christianity has dealt a massive blow to science and humanity. However, it is ludicrous for liberals in the Western countries to excuse Islam’s present influence by alluding to what the Catholics did hundreds of years ago: the crusades, inquisition, witch-burning and so on. To do so, is like me telling an adult, “It’s okay if you can’t count to 20. I couldn’t do that either 23 years ago (when I was an infant).”

Many years ago, Pakistani professor, Pervez Hoodhboy, wrote an outstanding book called, “Islam and Science: Religious Orthodoxy and the Battle for Rationality”. In it, he put forth the same “racist” and “bigoted” ideas that Lean attacks Dawkins for.  It’s tragic when facts do not coincide with Mr. Leans’ sense of political correctness, but that’s really how the cookie crumbles.

In the book, he acknowledged Muslims’ (some of them were actually atheists/agnostics under Muslim rule) contribution to science back in the middle-ages….as did Dawkins in the second part of his controversial tweet, but that is largely ignored by pot-stirrers whose livelihood depends on mining quotes and presenting them in an inflammatory fashion. But more importantly, Hoodbhoy discussed in detail the crisis of scientific thinking in the Muslim world and pointed to Islam, as gently as he possibly could as a citizen of a country where blasphemy laws exist, as a hindrance to our progress.

Obviously, there are more factors at play here than just religion. Socioeconomic instability, illiteracy and political uncertainty all hinder progress, scientific or otherwise. But is Islam at least a major contributor to this problem?

Consider this: Not too long ago in Pakistani Parliament, a domestic violence bill was blocked mainly because parties like Jamat-e-Ulema-i-Islami (JUI-F) claimed that it violated Quranic law. The Quran , in one of its surahs, allows a husband to beat a wife. Moderate Muslims interpret it differently (I have no idea how, because the verse 4:34 is extremely clear about it), but the truth remains that religion was a major reason why Pakistani husbands were allowed to continue legally thrashing their wives that day.

I wonder what Lean would’ve said had something similar happened in Washington DC; if a domestic violence bill had been stalemated because of bible-thumpers? Knowing that Mr. Lean is no hypocrite, I reckon he would’ve published a tirade against the angry liberals questioning Christianity’s role in this injustice, and called them all “bigoted”.

Nathan Lean, we request you to stop.

We, the minorities/liberals/free-thinking who are hiding/suffering/dying under Islamic rule, are fed up of liberals in the West being apologists for an ideology that is inspiring so much intolerance and hate towards us.

So here’s a simple solution to help you deal with what I, as a doctor, have provisionally diagnosed as munchausen-by-proxy syndrome – the compulsion to fake symptoms of poor health in a patient, in order to get attention for yourself as the patient’s guardian.

I don’t think Islam is the greatest evil in the world, as Mr.Dawkins’s somewhat hyperbolic tweet claimed (I think it was an intentional exaggeration).  But as a Pakistani liberal and freethinker, I can say with certitude that I would’ve personally been using a much smaller dosage of anti-depressants had religion not been in my picture.

If you feel Muslims are being victimized because of someone tweeting facts (and that too, as a response to Muslims who boast how much science owes to them, because someone in the Islamic empire invented sulphuric acid a thousand years ago), you really haven’t been paying to what goes on in the name of Islam around the world. I implore you that you do.

A Western Liberal’s Guide to Islamic Realities

If you’re an American liberal, or a liberal from any one of the other ‘Western’ nations, there’s a chance that you’ve worn out the word ‘Islamophobia’ through repetitive use.

One such liberal is Nathan Lean, who wrote an almost-horeshit article for Salon recently. “Almost” because it raises some valid points, “horseshit” because, well, it’s horseshit.

For too long, many Western liberals have acted as apologists for the Islamic ideology as a special courtesy to the Muslim minorities who, since 9/11, have suffered much discrimination. Please stop that. Recognize the difference between attacking Muslims and attacking  their beliefs, these are not the same.

Nathan Lean makes the following objections about the activities of prominent atheists, which I will respond to individually.

1) Dawkins cannot assert that Islam’s a dangerous ideology if he hasn’t read the Quran.

I liked Dawkins’ example that you can conclude that Nazism is dangerous without actually reading the Mein Kampf (this is not a correlation between the two books).

It’s evident from Dawkins’ works that he is very well aware of Islamic concepts and beliefs, even if he has not read the exact text from which these beliefs are derived.  That, and the statistical fact that religious terrorism is almost entirely a fief of Islam in today’s world, imbues some credibility to Dawkins’ claims.

2) Chomsky has criticized Dawkins and Hitchens as “religious fanatics” who demand that their followers blindly support the whims of politicians.

Chomsky’s a dick. Take it from a citizen of Pakistan, whose army Chomsky has publicly praised as highly efficient – the same organization that is accused of providing protection to Osama bin Laden (whose hideout was only a short drive away from a military academy) as well as other Islamist groups, consistently interfering in the country’s political processes, and committing unspeakable human rights violations in Balochistan.

Besides, the crux of Dawkins’ and Hitchens’ entire narrative is evidence, evidence and evidence. Speaking of which, Chomsky cannot offer any proof that these two have ever led their followers to blindly support anything.

3) Dawkins’ tweets about women in Islam

Dawkins tweeted: “Islam is comforting? Tell that to a woman, dressed in a bin bag [trash bag], her testimony worth half a man’s and needing 4 male witnesses to prove rape.”

Assuming that Nathan Lean has read the Quran, unlike Dawkins who allegedly just pulls stuff out of his behind, he should be aware of the following verse:

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And let two men from among you bear witness to all such documents [contracts of loans without interest]. But if two men be not available, there should be one man and two women to bear witness so that if one of the women forgets (anything), the other may remind her. (2:282)
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And unlike Christians, most Muslims today take the Quran literally.

The four-witnesses rule has been followed by the Islamic Republic of Pakistan until 2006 (and still followed in certain Islamic countries). And full body covering is a common religious rule which, though not strictly found in the Quran, is followed by countless Muslims around the world in the name of Islam. These are not just actions of a “few bad Muslims”, these are hard Islamic principles.

And then there’s the objection to this tweet by Dawkins: “Next gem from BBC Idiot Zoo: ‘Some women feel “protected” by the niqab.'”. It’s an objection that makes no sense, unless you think covering your face is a harmless thing, and not a social barrier. Clearly, you’re not a feminist.

Dawkins and other prominent atheists have been just as sardonic and acerbic with unreasonable Christian dicta.

4) Dawkins lambasted UCL and the Islamic group for allowing segregation.

They didn’t allow the segregation, they enforced it. Lawrence Krauss reported that he was outraged to see some nice young people being split up and told where to sit by the organizers, which was apparently the trigger for him almost storming out.

Lean makes a fair point that Dawkins should have criticized the gender-separate seating options for orthodox Jews at the Barclays Center, New York. But it’s highly likely that it simply did not fall on Dawkins’ radar (the UCL gender-segregation incident was made famous in the atheist community because it was hosting a God debate. Also, unless you’re advocating the two-wrongs-make-a-right-rule, I think we’re done.

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Dear Western Liberals,

I’m an ex-Muslim, born and raised among the Muslims in an Islamic country. I’ve studied Islam in much detail. And unlike you, who might have done the same probably just to appear more open-minded to your liberal friends, I did it because I had very little choice in the matter.

Your apologia for Islam offends us; a personal slap to my face, and to the face of just about every ex-Muslim, every woman, homosexual, non-Muslim, freethinker and free-spirit, who has been discriminated against, if not overtly oppressed, under Islamic law.

Your fervor for defending Muslims from discrimination and wicked stereotypes is admirable, and I share this fervor as well. But I must insist that you recognize the distinction between protecting Muslims’ from bigots, and acknowledging the dangers posed by the Islamic ideology.

No, all Muslims are not misogynists or terrorists. But that is usually because they have made a conscious or subconscious decision to ignore many of the rougher, archaic tenets, or re-interpret them to become more compatible with the modern era. Otherwise, you cannot be a spokesperson for gender equality, the LGBT community, free speech, AND Islam at the same time.

Again, please stop cozying up to an obviously harmful ideology as a courtesy to the mistreated Muslim minorities in your countries.