A general record of my ongoing battle with all forms of nonsense.

Sunday 20 April 2008

Is my first fatwa on its way?

Leicester Secular Society had a talk/debate this evening on Shariah Law. The speaker was a Sharia "judge" from the Islamist organisation Sunnah Leicester.

The point of his argument was to argue in favour of implementing Shariah Law, and the basis of it was to compare the worst problems of various international societies past and present against Sharia Law. There were two main problems with the argument given, (1) we were told nothing of Sharia, so it wasn't really what you'd call a comparison, and (2) it clearly committed the informal fallacy known of the false dilemma: there are more possible forms of society than those mentioned. Oh, and (3) he only compared Shariah with any given society on one or two points; not really what you'd call a proper cost-benefit analysis.

To break down the argument into it's fundamental components:

  1. Shariah is based laws from Allah, Society A is based upon laws from man.

  2. Society idea A (which was thought up by men) had problem X.

  3. You wouldn't get X in Shariah.

  4. Therefore; Shariah is better than society A.

  5. Repeat above arguments with societies B-F

  6. Therefore; Shariah is the best possible society.

As you may have noticed from the argument above; nothing was said about Shariah law (except that it doesn't have X). Which isn't really what you'd expect from a talk titled "Shariah Law". Perhaps it should have been titled "Shariah Law Surprise".

Anyway - onto how I'm on my way to my first fatwa. Someone at the back (one of the Muslims) had said that without Shariah there is much more of {crime A, crime B, crime C}. His list included rape.

Now, the thing is (sorry, we're going back a bit in time here for a bit of background) Muhammad invited the ruler of Egypt to join Islam. And although he didn't respond with a definite "yes"; he did respond with a gift. And that gift included a couple of Coptic Christian Slave girls accompanied by an elderly eunuch. This may sound funny now, but I'm sure it wasn't at the time. Especially if you were one of the slaves. And I wouldn't want to be the eunuch either.

Muhammad kept the slaves and had sex with them. His wives complained. But Muhammad had a "revelation" to deal with this. This essence of this revelation is Muhammad can shag is slaves whenever he wants, Allah said so, stop winging on about it. Sura (66:1-5).

So.... back to the more recent past. This chap had just talked about all the rape that's going on because of the lack of Shariah law. I thought that it would be fair to point out that Mohammad kept sex slaves and used them - and was therefore a rapist. Not an unreasonable amount of conjecture I thought.

"Listen, you better watch your mouth" I heard in a rather threatening voice. "Are you threatening me with violence?" I asked. "Yes" three of them responded.

I think it was Alexei Sayle who said something like "I'm convinced that it would be really funny if someone took the piss out of fundamentalist Islam. I'm also convinced that it shouldn't be me". He had a good point.

I was then informed by some members of the secular society that the particular brand of Islam being offered tonight was of the fundamentalist variety. Which to be fair should have been obvious from the beards alone. And the dress code. Oh, and their clearly stated goals of turning the whole world into a single state implementing Shariah Law.

Thankfully, a couple of society members escorted me to my car so I managed to get away unscathed.

There are good and bad sides to this. The bad side is obviously that I've been threatened with religiously motivated violence from a group of about 25 Islamic fundamentalists. The good side is that; when someone resorts to threatening violence, you must have won the argument.


Irish lad said...

I sincerely hope so. You are a racist bigot who has been blasphemous about someone's religion and living in Leicester you should know better. Loonies like you cause racial unrest and disharmony.

Simon said...

I finished this blog with the phrase "when someone resorts to threatening violence, you must have won the argument."

Thankfully, Irish Lad has pointed out another way you can discover when an opponent has realised they've lost the argument - when they resort to ad hominem attacks.

However, I feel I should respond.

1. Racist.
I've questioned one of the doctrine's of a religion, and not made any comments whatsoever about a race. What makes you think I'm a racist?

2. Bigot.
I may disagree with other people's opinions but I'm certainly not intolerant of them. Intolerance of someone's opinion can be shown by threatening violence when they state their opinion. Pointing out what you believe to be an inconsistency in someone else's belief isn't bigoted. Would you refer to the process of scientific peer review as "bigotry"?

3. Blasphemous
Well, yes maybe. But that should be encouraged (see below).

4. Loonies like you cause racial [I assume you mean religous] unrest and disharmony.

Now this is the interesting one. It wasn't long ago that the majority of the Christian religion was just like Islamic fundamentalism is now: violent and intolerant of any opposing viewpoint. And while some Christian fundamentalists are still like this, it doesn't seem to be quite as dangerous as Islamic fundamentalism - at least in the UK.

Why is this? Why did Christianity change so much over the last 150 years or so? Well, one idea is that Christianity has been subject of a lot of questioning in a lot of countries where free speech is a fundamental right. When people are continuously exposed to other people questioning their beliefs, they become more aware of other opinions and over time more tolerant of them.

The key to fighting religious unrest and disharmony is more blasphemy. It should be actively encouraged.

calico skies said...

I have read the things on your blog with interest.
you appear to be someone out to get anyone for anything. Are you a muslim - and if you are not then i suspect you only went to the meeting to create trouble while all the time questioning others for their beliefs, do you have all the answers then, are YOU right - hmmmmm, if so we need proof that you are right, where is it ?

Simon said...

"you appear to be someone out to get anyone for anything"

Well, I think it important to challenge beliefs if this is what you mean. Without people challenging your beliefs, you are unlikely to become more knowledgeable. I also think it is important to expose those who fraudulently sell quack medicine to the sick.

Are you a Muslim - and if you are not then i suspect you only went to the meeting to create trouble

No, I'm not a Muslim. The event was held at the Leicester Secular Society. The Muslim group approached the LSS and asked to speak about Sharia. If you turn up at a society whose primary function is to challenge religious belief and speak on your religious beliefs, I think it would be silly not to expect to be challenged on them.

do you have all the answers then

Answers to what?

Irish lad said...

I appreciate your considered response and would point out that my comments were most certainly not intended as ad hominem attacks per se but intended to illustrate to you why your comments would be seen to be racist and blasphemous by the recipients - our country as a whole is trying to preach tolerance, not incite!

However, I reiterate my concerns that this sort of behaviour undoubtedly encourages the fundamentalist/extreme fringes of Islam in particular

For instance, I am not surprised that you had to be escorted to your car by society members.

If you, or anyone else derides these people with comments about "the beards alone. And the dress code". it is bound to incite unsavoury response.

And your comment "Oh, and their clearly stated goals of turning the whole world into a single state implementing Shariah Law". is equally inflammatory for those looking for an excuse to create mayhem on the general public in response to the perceived insults from individuals such as yourself.

These fundamentalists take this very seriously and have intelligence networks that get them to their targets. Whilst you are entitled to your views, I think it is very unwise to say things like "Is my first fatwa on its way"

Still, that's your funeral I suppose.

What concerns me more is that your comments could rebound on the next innocent Christian who happens to be out alone at night, encountering the aggressors you had to contend with, without the protection of other 'society members' or members of the public willing to put their lives at risk to defend those innocents.

Surely you must acknowledge the danger your published views could cause innocent bystanders?

Simon said...

Irish Lad,

You haven't justified why you think my comments would be judged as racist. Of course religious people often deliberately confuse religious criticism with racism in order to prevent criticism of their religion. Can you point out a single racist statement in my post?

In the short term, you're probably right that my questioning of their prophet's ethics merely encourages fundamentalism. But I doubt if this is true in the long term. When you hear something every day it tends to stop bothering you. From familiarity comes tolerance, and a tolerant society will only evolve when people can listen to criticism of their beliefs without threatening violence.

I do not think I can be held responsible if someone attacks an innocent bystander (Christian or otherwise) after I criticise their religion. The responsibility lies only with the attacker.

You say that my comments about the group wanting a worldwide Islamic state implementing Shariah law are inflammatory. Well they did state that this is what they wanted quite clearly in the talk. This isn't me exaggerating anything. The speaker was a guy named Anjem Choudhary. See:


this is him on YouTube:


Irish lad said...

Thanks for responding Simon - I think the issue is rather than you deliberately inciting racial hatred, these people look for any excuse. I agree that you did not make racist remarks on reflection and I withdraw that view! For the record I am an atheist as I think all religion is the root cause of all war and terrorism and to be avoided at all costs!

Interestingly I have read the rest of your blog and notice your exchange with Calco Sky...in your response to him, you mention exposing quack medicine to the sick - a view I strongly support! Well done! I don't know how to make complaints to the ASA etc but I saw an ad in the Daily Mail last week for a product called PainWave which was misleading on a number of fronts - not sure how to attach this to show you...