Tuesday, 6 June 2017

Understanding Islam

As a lifelong atheist and born cynic I have always seen religion - for other people - as a parental substitute and a kind of balm or emollient, giving comfort and offering companionship. I think of religion as a security blanket; provider of ready-made social structures; births marriages and deaths; continuity through generations. Religion can soothe away insecurities and uncertainties and eradicate loneliness.
Also, I’ve seen many a happy outcome and even had fleeting feelings of envy. But I also felt that religion could be benign, but is more often malign. Either way religion was for ‘them’ not me, and of little relevance. 

That was before Islam came along and slapped us in the face. I can remember long lost tales from far-flung places, of families torn apart by wars and natural disasters, but bearing devastating loss with unimaginable stoicism because they believed it was all “the will of Allah.” 

What is that all about, we would ask ourselves, marvelling at the alien beings’ capacity for credulity and resilience. 

Now though, the violence accompanying the cultural tsunami of mass immigration that has engulfed an apathetic Europe forces us to acknowledge that something is not right in the state of Denmark.

I understood Islam to be a sexually repressive, misogynistic, patriarchal cult, bogged down by life-limiting dogma and cultural rules and regulations. With all that baggage stripped away, as is necessary for a reformed, new fangled, ’moderate’ Islam, would there be anything left at all, I wondered? But why even bother to speculate, as Islam’s built-in infallibility, inalienability and non-negotiability makes the prospect of any such stripping away very unlikely.

Politicians who are concerned about terrorism and aren’t sure how to react to it should read this revelatory article by MEMRI's Yigal Carmon. This is the information that the BBC should be disseminating, as per their charter - for the good of the country.

Dear Amber Rudd, you’ve got to read it. And Theresa May and all the clueless political leaders who have taken on the responsibility of governing Britain and keeping us safe. Wouldn’t we feel a little more confident knowing our politicians were on the case? As it is, they seem to have little or no idea.

Jihad is designed to divide us and make us change our way of life, but not to separate us into two camps, left wing tolerant sympathisers of Islam on the one side, and intolerant Islamophobes on the other. Neither is it to convert us and our way of life from the debauched boozers they think we are into goody-goody, teetotal church-goers.

No, holy Jihad demands an all-or-nothing revolution. They want to divide all humanity into believers and non-believers, eventually eradicating the latter - in order to create the ideal Islamic utopia. 

They do want to change us and our way of life, as we infidels exist in a cesspit of promiscuity and impurity and they want the whole wide world to embrace the purity and dedication that underpins the life of the pious Muslim.

The jihadis who perpetrate these horrific crimes are neither losers, nor nihilists, nor worshipers of death, nor sick cowards. On the contrary, the overwhelming majority of them are devout and fanatic believers. They are idealists who sacrifice their lives for the sake of a utopian future: a world ruled by their faith. The attacks they commit are extreme acts of piety. They seek to emulate the dedication of the early believers in order to revive the glory and grandeur of the past. In fact, as part of their training, many suicide bombers adopt a pious lifestyle: they immerse themselves in prayer, help the needy in their society, pay all their debts,[1] and become moral and religious role models for others”

 I wrote about a similarly informative piece here, (and I made some of the above points too) but I’m not sure how many people bothered to listen to Sam Harris’s podcast

Yigal Carmon presents a less defeatist theory. That Islam is redeemable. That there are great things to respect and admire within historic Islam; creativity and empire building and so on. He says that in order to encourage reform it’s necessary to stop mischaracterising Islamic terrorism:
“the truth is that these perpetrators, by the standards of their own belief, are virtuous people who follow the directives of the Koran [48:29]:”

First, we must be prepared to recognise that murderous activities do derive from the core values of Islam. 
“The problem lies not in the perpetrators' innate character but in some of the core values of their religious belief system. “
“Western leaders cannot expect to defeat "terrorism" in their countries when they deny and evade acknowledging the roots of the jihadi phenomenon: the deep connection of the attacks to the faith. Admitting this connection will not only be more respectful to Muslims, it will also be conducive to reforms and useful to Muslim reformists, who acknowledge that the terrorists' ideals come from within: from the houses of worship, the schools and society at large. Being truthful towards the Muslims is more respectful than denial.”

Melanie Phillips must have been reading the same piece. She has written in a similar vein in the Times (£). 

I hope I’m not flattering myself when I tell you that I wrote the above before I saw her article:Terror will continue until Islam is reformed.

“We should be promoting and defending such Muslim reformers in the desperate hope that they succeed. Instead we knock the ground from under their feet by saying Islamist attacks have nothing to do with Islam. Until and unless Islam is reformed, we need to treat its practices on a scale ranging from extreme caution to outlawing some of them altogether.”
We’re really letting the reformers down if we don’t support them. Come on BBC. This is where you (could) come in.
I am tempted to go back to my initial cynicism. I am still an atheist and inveterate cynic. But if anything can be salvaged from the religion of Islam to make it compatible with me and mine, all might not be lost.


  1. It takes such a deep level of thinking to arrive at the conclusion you have drawn. The trouble is apathy mixed with the fear of being branded racist is enough to make most turn away. It's an inconvenient truth. Can you imagine being any politician standing in front of a studio audience putting these points forward when day to day topics get the audience in such a tizz that they can't see straight? I'm afraid political correctness will never let common sense prevail and the BBC is too busy washing all of our brains with their neo liberal agenda. What to do..?

  2. There was a moment in time when I felt proud to live in an increasingly secular Britain. It almost felt as if, with centuries of darkness and ignorance behind us we had at last reached a level of civilisation only attainable in a modern liberal democracy. What is so disappointing - disappointing beyond belief - is that one would have thought that the liberal/left and in particular the BBC would be on the front line defending these values. The kind of tolerance that justifies barbarity and refuses to face up to reality isn’t tolerance at all.

  3. I don't think this approach will work. Firstly, no one in government is going to address themselves that way to the Muslim community. Secondly, reformers can get no traction. The only reformers I have ever come across deny what is plainly there in the Koran, Hadith and Life of Mo. Finally, it's insulting to say these terrorists can be of "good character". They are individuals, they have existential choices they can make and they live in a pluralistic society that offers them a wide range of choices. To go and murder young concert goers and Saturday night drinkers for no reason other than you think your religion approves of it, shows you are among the lowest of the low.

    The only possible way we are going to get out of this mess is insisting on respect for our liberal democratic values - that means going on the offensive against Sharia, effectively making its practice illegal.

    BTW I don't find Melanie Phillips convincing on this subject. When it was Israeli doctrine that there was a genuine, personalised Islam that was inoffensive she used to replicate that viewpoint. But now she seems to have upped the ante, but then so has Israel, now that it understand genuine Islam is a far greater threat to it than secular Arabism ever was. Let's not forget that Israel originally promoted Hamas as a counterweight to the PLO.

    I respect the people like Robert Spencer who have been honest and consistent throughout.

  4. Linked to on the Biased BBC website:


    I think Simon Harris does well joining the dots (in other words doing the job that our useless so called journalists on BBC, ITV and Sky should be doing).

  5. Robinson doing the media's job for them...


  6. When we were little we were told "you can come in when you learn to behave yourselves".
    When 'moderate' Islam has been established in Afghanistan, etc. etc, etc. then they 'can come in'. Until then they should stay out of the West and the only flying they should be doing is on a halal flying horse and not on haram Western airliners.
    Maximum happiness for the most people, what's not to like?