Discussion Between an Atheist and an Ahmadi Muslim

A comment was made by a member of ASHS called Jacob. A member of AMYA UK very kindly sent me in a response and I thought it best to put this is up as a post as both comments are pertinent to the wider discussion taking place. It is stated below, but I will restate it; Jacob’s contribution here is his own and not as a representative of any group or organisation. 

Lastly, I would argue that the below discussion is the type of productive and useful freedom of expression worthy of an institution like UCL. Jacob and those with a similar zeal to enter into constructive discussion will always be welcome to comment here. This site is as much for them as it is for anyone else. As the moderator here, I have no issue with people of different ways of thinking asking tough questions of each another. That is to be encouraged here.

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JACOB’S COMMENT

Speaking as a member of the ASHS (but please don’t think I represent the society in any official way, the views I represent here are entirely my own), I’d just like to ask a question for the purpose of clarification/enlightenment and raise one or two ‘issues’:

Firstly, what are the grounds that mainstream Islamic theory, or the Qur’an provides for advancing the view that one should not create images of Muhammad? I am just genuinely curious to know…

Now, I would point out that whilst it is clear that Muslim individuals might be offended by the portrayal of Muhammad in an image, it is not the case that there is universal offense caused by the image, which is to say that not everyone is offended by it. Not everyone subscribes to the view that Muhammad was in any way holy or worthy of a special sort of deference. In this respect it is not a case of objectivity as to the ‘goodness’ of posting an image of Muhammad. What I mean by this is that some people consider this a bad deed, and others do not. It’s not a black and white issue as to whether it was wrong to post the image. So when it is asked “Is it not better to choose to be kind, to choose to be respectful, to choose to be good?” (presumably questioning whether one should have posted the image on a moral basis) the answer within this context might reasonably be ‘yes, but what we consider to be good differs vastly from what you consider to be “good”‘.

Moreover, you are correct to identify the parallel themes in Mill’s analysis of rights (the notion of our possession of rights is distinct from the utilisation of our rights). However, you must understand that the ASHS’s qualms lie with the Union. Whilst, in your view, it might not have been the right time of use our rights to freedom of speech it does not detract from that fact that we do still possess the right to free speech and the Union tried to surpress this. You are wholly entitled to see it as inappropriate to speak freely in this instance, but that does not constitute grounds for censorship (something I imagine you may agree with me on, given how I’ve read you analysis of Mill). Our petition is against the Union, not against people considering us as inappropriate in our exercise of free speech.

I would also personally challenge the notion that the image was a “distasteful attempt to insult, mock and deride”. When the posting of the image is viewed within a certain context you might see why I object to this. The image appeared on the Facebook page of the ASHS. The members of the group are largely Atheists. The image is from a popular cartoon series that many Atheists find humorous on account of its ironic depiction of the two Prophets and the even more ironic (and frequently innocent) conversations that the two of them partake in. One particular cartoon showed Jesus and Muhammad in a bar. The event was for a pub social, where we aim to engage in conversation. Ergo, the cartoon had a degree of relevance to the group’s event. It portrayed something most people find humorous, it was contextual, and it was primarily directed towards a group not likely to be offended (on account of their Atheism). I don’t see any direct attempt to insult, or deride either Muslims or Muhammad in the image’s posting. I should note that this is not to say that individuals should not be offended, or that no one was offended, that would be ludicrous for me to suggest such a thing, but simply that there was no malice in its posting.

If you’ve read this far, thanks for your time!

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RESPONSE SENT IN

Jacob,

Thank you for actively engaging in this and probing in a constructive manner. In essence, this is how we feel our rights to free speech ought to be exercised; with a view to a positive, constructive dialogue engaged in with mutual respect. If only this was the attitude of more of your associates, I’m sure we would all be benefitting immensely.

I will try to take some of your points in turn, made on January 12, 2012, at 12.33am, and will also consider some of the reply points made on January 12, 2012 at 9.13pm.

The first point about not creating images of Muhammad is actually somewhat secondary to the issue. The complaint is not per se about the images, but rather about the insult, offence and disrespect targeted at both Jesus and Muhammad, and consequently, at the Muslim and Christian communities. This is based on Islamic principles of mutual tolerance and respect. I can dig out relevant verses of the Quran and extracts from the Hadith (the sources of Islam) if you that is what you mean.

The second point you raise is about the “good” and about its relativity depending on one’s philosophical leaning. You are entirely correct that the “good” can be a subjective thing. That is precisely why Islam and Mill etc advocate free expression, precisely because the conception of the good differs, and the only way to truth (which is the main telos of free expression according to Islam and Mill) is through open exchange of ideas by way of free expression. But that was not the point made in the article above (An Open Letter from AMYA UK), and my apologies if this was in any way misstated or confusing. The good referred to in the article was not the substantive good, but rather the procedural good, namely consideration of the context and consequences of exercising one’s own version of the good. The issue is not whether you or I consider whether the posting of an image of Muhammad is good or bad, but rather what will the reasonably likely consequences of those actions be. The fact that they will insult or offend, or even incite violence, is a relevant factor to take into account. That is what is meant by exercising the right in a good way – not that the expression should somehow be objectively good, but rather irrespective of the substance of the expression, the way in which it is expressed and the consequences of that way of expressing it ought to consider by the speaker.

As far as the third point goes, about being targeted at the Union. That makes sense, to an extent, but (and maybe I have misunderstood) it comes across a bit childish. It is almost like you are saying because we are being told not to say something, we are (somewhat petulantly) going to say it even more. What is between you and the Union, I do not know, but the knock on effects on others ought to be a relevant consideration, which, in all honesty, in the majority of those who are promoting these action, does not seem to be the case.

The fourth point you raise is the lack of intent to insult, mock and deride. I can totally understand if there was no intention to “directly insult” as you put it (although even you will have to admit that some of the things that the proponents of the cartoons are doing and saying is plainly with a direct intent to such an end). What you have to also consider is the indirect intent, i.e. a recklessness as to the consequences of certain actions, which in most forms of legal and moral philosophy is considered to be a form of intent. It may be that you walk past a particularly disabled child in the street with your friends and you think of a particularly amusing joke about her, which you share with your friends in front of her and her parents. It would entirely legitimate for you to say, “I did not directly intend to insult her, but to make my friends laugh”, but this would, in my view, constitute reckless intent. Often this form of insulting is done largely through ignorance of the consequences of one’s actions. Which is why it is so important to engage constructively, as you seem to be doing, with a view to empathising.

In relation to some of the points that you raise in reply to “Ibne Khalid”. I take your point about “egotistical goals”. Perhaps I would not have put it like that. But I don’t think simply saying: look at the goals of the society makes the point you seek to make. It is not about the goals, per se, it is about the manner in which they are sought. Furthermore, where there is the point about being actively blind to those around you, and the effect that you are having on them, that may give the impression to others such that you may come across selfish. You may have a valid point about individuals posting and not the Society, but the Society has taken a particular stance, and it is that stance taken by the Society which is being questioned.

As an aside, it seems to me that this where a sharp division between humanism and atheism may come into play. The principles that are being espoused by the Muslims (and Christians) in response to this matter – namely, of peace, tolerance, mutual respect and cooperation – are much more closely aligned with the humanist branch of the Society. It might be nice to see those who affiliate themselves more closely with humanism rather than atheism make this point, and recognise that it is possible for all humanity to live together, to exercise their rights but in a way that takes into account these basic humanist principles.

As regards the right not to be offended, first of all it is not so simple. Sometimes there is such a right, sometimes there is not. A footballer who makes racist remarks to another footballer on the football pitch which are offensive may sometimes be prohibited and punished. Does this not equate to a right not to be offended? But perhaps I am digressing. The point – and this was the thrust of the article – was that there is a distinction between a legal right or duty and a moral right or duty. One may have a legal right to act in a certain way, but there may be a moral duty not to act in that same way. Again, this is where humanism sometimes tends to depart from atheism. You may have a legal right to lie, but you may have a moral duty not too.

And that leads me on to your point about Mill. I would likewise recommend you and maybe others too re-reading Mill’s works, and not just On Liberty, but perhaps Utilitarianism too, and again, this was the thrust of the article above – that whilst the State may not interfere with one’s free expression, one’s own moral judgment might. Again, it is this which seems to be completely missing from the atheist discourse, which is very present in all Mill’s work.

Ultimately the issue is not about free speech vs a right not to be offended. Rather, given that we have this right to free expression, how should we choose to exercise it?

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179 thoughts on “Discussion Between an Atheist and an Ahmadi Muslim

  1. Dear Red Star,

    Which creature is greater than humans?

    Or was that a statement made in irrational anger? Perhaps it is joke I haven’t got?

    Would be nice to know.

    Peace

    Num

  2. I know plenty of Muslims who smoke like chimneys and who have died from cancer.

    I also see plenty of people who have been oppressed, suffered, humiliated, tortured and murdered because Islam.

  3. Not really, as secularists abhor, condemn and challenge domestic violence whereas Islam justifies, endorses and condones it.

    Where are all the Muslim groups and charities helping victims of domestic violence and campaigning for women’s rights?

  4. Why do you insist in going around in circles?
    If you are going to present an example, please make it one applicable to Ahmadi Muslims. If you are going to convince a person like me to give up on my God, I would at least expect one irrefutable contradictory view.

  5. The highly publicised Red Nose fundraising a year or two ago for the ‘progressive and secular’ Great Britian was intended for victims of domestic violence. Peculiar?

  6. Really, moderators?

    Then why are these things so peculiar to the Islamic world and absent from progressive, secular societies?

    Why is it that religion is used to justify such acts all over the world?

    In Islam, all such acts begin with ‘In the name of Allah’…

  7. Pictures are worth a thousand words.

    Watch this [PLEASE DO NOT POST SUCH VIDEOS HERE. THEY ARE NOT WELCOME AND NOT REPRESENTATIVE OF ISLAM. AHMADIS STAND AGAINST ALL FORMS OF INJUSTICE. THE FACT THAT SOME WOMEN ARE ABUSED BY MEN HAS NOTHING TO DO WITH ISLAM OR RELIGION. SADLY, WOMEN, AND MEN, HAVE BEEN OPPRESSED BY MANY PEOPLE OF VARIOUS PERSUASIONS FOR CENTURIES. INJUSTICE WOULD EXIST WITH OR WITHOUT RELIGION]

  8. Peace be upon you Red Star,

    I have posted the speech of my beloved Master, the Holy Prophet (saw). Nowhere he says that this or this group is superior over this and this. This speech is known as the Farewell Address.

    However, it is true that Islam is the greatest Religion. It does not mean that people who are not Muslims shall be deprived of their rights. Allah calls Islam the last and superior Religion because of the fact that the evolution of Religion has ended and the mind of man has been shaped ready to understand what he could not before. In fact, he could, but he had given up the Hope that there is a God.

    The Holy Prophet (saw) himself used to pray in the Style Abraham, Moses, Jesus and all the other Prophets did before he received Revelations. The fact is that multiple God is a hateful thing in the eyes of Allah. Before the Holy Prophet (saw) started to pray towards the Kaaba, he prayed towards Jerusalem. In his remembarance of God he had advanced so much that other Prophets could not hold track with him. A great example is Jesus who ,despite having the assurance from God that the evil designs of his enemies will fail, used to flee whenever he got to know that a enemy will be here or there. Before his cruxification he cried all night and hanging on the cross he said “Elli Elli Sabachtani” > “Oh God, why have you left me?”

    By no means I want to say that Jesus was not a great Prophet. There is a beautiful narration about the Holy Prophet (saw) where a Jew and a Muslim where fighting. Both argumented that their Prophet is better than their and vice versa. The Holy Prophet (saw) advised the Muslim Man not call him greater than Moses for he was a great Prophet, a lover of Allah and a dear friend of Allah.

    If God had left him, he would’ve been killed. God tests everyone. Understand who wants to.

    Below is the Speech.

    “O ye people, hear my speech. I do not know whether I will be meeting you here after this year. O ye people, your blood and your property and your honour are sacred amongst you until you meet your Lord as is sacred this day, this month, this town. Whoso has with him the trust of the other he should render it to him. Every kind of interest is forbidden this day. The interest due to Abbas bin Muttabib is remitted today. All the bloodshed in the time of ignorance is forgiven. I forgive first the blood of Ibne Rabia bin Harith bin Abdul Muttalib.

    God has appointed for every one a share in the property. No “will” shall now be accepted that wrongs a rightful heir. A child born in a house shall be regarded the child of the father in the house.

    O men, you have some rights over your wives. Your wives also have rights over you. Your right over them is that they should lead chaste lives and not take ways that bring shame to the husband in the sight of the people.

    Your duty is to provide them with food and garments and shelter according to your standard. Remember, you should always treat your wives well. God has charged you with the duty of taking good care of them. Woman is weak and cannot protect her own rights. God has appointed you the trustee of those rights.

    O men, you still have with you some prisoners of war. I advise you to feed them and clothe them in the same way and style as you feed and clothe yourselves.

    O men, what I say to you, you should hear and remember. All Muslims are as brethren to one another. All of you are equal. All men of whatever nation or tribe, and whatever position are equal.”

    Then lifting two hands, the Prophet joined the fingers of one to the fingers of the other and said,

    “Even as the fingers of the two hands are equal, so are human beings equal to one another. No one has any right, nor any preference to claim over another. You are brothers.”

    Then he asked,

    “Do you know what month is this? What city we are in? What day of the year it is today?”

    It was the sacred day, the Prophet announced:

    “Even as this month is sacred, this land sacred and this day sacred, so has God made the lives, property and honour of every man sacred.”

    Proceeding he said:

    “What I command you today is not for today only. It is for all times to come. You
    should remember and obey until you leave this world and go to the next to meet your
    Creator.

    What I have said to you, carry it to the ends of the world. May be the one who has not heard benefits from it more than the one who has.”

    On his way back to Medina, the Prophet said it to a gathering of the companions:

    “O ye people, I am only a man, perhaps God’s angel might come and I have to accept the call. I am leaving in your midst two things. The first is the Book of Allah which has guidance and light. Hold fast to the Book of Allah, therefore, hold fast to it; and my house-hold. I remind you of Allah in respect of the people of my house.”

  9. Of course, I am not putting forward health advantages as a proof of God’s existence. I’m simply pointing out that “liberation” is not a convincing reason to give up religion. Most of the negative experiences of theists are not fundamentally due to their belief in God, they’re due to animalistic tendencies which exist as much (or perhaps more) in atheists as theists. This is why giving up belief in God didn’t prevent individuals or civilisations from committing mass murder and atrocities. The problem is the human ego, not God, and the destructive effect of the ego continues in the absence of belief in God. The Rwandan genocide, the Nanking massacre, the bombings of Dresden and Hiroshima… none of these had a religious motive. Relatively few serial killers have a strong religious belief, and indeed some of the most notorious were atheists. For certain, there is more alcoholism amongsts atheists than muslims, and indeed one of the most famous New Atheists (Christopher Hitchens) was addicted to smoking and alcohol and eventually this caused his premature death from oesophageal cancer. Addiction to alcohol is not a quality of “liberation”. Red Star can say he is free, and I can say that I’m free. These are all subjective opinions. I see absolutely no evidence of liberation in atheists, in fact quite the opposite.

    Peace,
    Moosa

  10. My general experience is that atheism doesn’t emancipate anybody. Humans have multiple “gods” even if they deny the existence of God. Most people in the world today are slaves to ego, money, carnal pleasure, career progress, drugs or alcohol. Islam counteracts this slavery, by encouraging charity, controlled sexuality, ethics and abstinence from addictive substances. Atheism does nothing to stop these types of mental slavery, and in fact (by doing nothing) it encourages the natural human inclination for seeking worldly pleasure. Atheists do not formally worship idols in the form of statues, but many of them effectively worship money and pleasures of the flesh. Perhaps for this reason, numerous scientific studies have demonstrated that belief in God gives better health outcomes and better psychological outcomes. This has been documented and published in highly reputable medical journals such as The Lancet and the American Heart Journal.

    Peace,
    Moosa

  11. Red star,

    You are so bitter and angry, talking to you is like banging my head on the wall. I guess we shouldn’t have expected more from you since you didn’t contribute to this discussion to learn about God etc but simply to deny Him, to offend others and to try your best to make us understand that we are ‘living on our knees’. We are not arrogant Red Star but you indeed are: claiming you are better than all of us because ‘of your freedom to think’. You claim religion makes us feel superior but you are an atheist then how come you seem to have such a huge superiority complex? Anyway, let me conclude by saying that you should know by now that Ahmadi Muslims are peaceful and seek only to spread peace not anger or hatred. Yes, there are Muslims with some very vile agendas BUT we are not like that. If possible, if the ‘freedom to think’ that you enjoy allows you, then kindly try not to insult and belittle our beliefs.That’s the end on my contribution to this discussion. Peace Mercy and Blesisngs of God be upon you!

    Peace

  12. I’m not angry, and I’m not hateful.

    Read your Qur’an. I’ll think you’ll find it’s your ‘God’ who is angry and hateful.

  13. Even if I were to accept you argument, which is so full of holes I could sieve flour through it (for one, religion is one of the most divisive things on the planet and causes people to think they are better than others), none of this actually provides evidence that God exists are that your religion is true.

    All you are saying is that your belief in a God makes you feel good. It’s like you’re [deleted].

    Doesn’t make God, or your religion, true.

  14. No offence taken.

    I’m not so easily offended, unlike you guys who can’t bear to look at cartoons. No offence intended 😉

  15. Actually, humans are animals.

    “We humans are the greatest of the creation in the entire world”

    What an arrogant, self-righteous statement. Humans are the most destructive creatures on the planet.

  16. Red Star, you seem to be a person who has so much anger and hatred in his heart… so how can you claim to be free?

    You’re not free. You’re kidding yourself if you think you’re free.

  17. “A brief observation: In my opinion, no human being is free. Even the atheist may be the slave of many gods, not the least being the god of his own ego.”

    A sad and cynical statement from someone who has chosen to live on his knees.

    No, nobody is entirely free. We are all slaves to death, to health, to our physical limitations.

    But our hearts and our minds can be free.

    And that is a freedom that knows no bounds, nor is there anything (including any religious experience) which can surpass that freedom.

  18. That’s true, anyone can suffer from these, however resolving the dissonance (i.e. rejecting the belief which contradicts the evidence) does indeed make it go away.

    You can only have cognitive dissonance if you hold contradictory views simultaneously. If you abandon one in favour of the other, you will no longer have cognitive dissonance.

    E.g. Christian holds view that Biblical creation story is true based on faith but also that Darwinian evolution is factual based on evidence. Option 1, he/she abandons faith in favour of evidence and rejects creation story. Option 2, he/she abandons evidence in favour of faith and rejects evolution. In either case, cognitive dissonance is removed. Although it is quite clear that these 2 options are neither equal nor mutually preferable.

    As for confirmation bias, I’d reckon I could point to a far greater number of things where believers suffer from this far more blatantly than non-believers.

  19. Red star, Thank you for the links. I know all about cognitive dissonance and confirmation bias, I am a psychology student. I could say the same for you, can’t I? So as kadim said: it goes both ways. I won’t elaborate, I’m sure you get what I mean.

    For me personally, I find that believing that indeed God exists is beneficial:

    1. One must be wise in life: Avoid actions with harmful consequences and choose those which can benefit you. Now let’s look at belief in God. If He does indeed exist (and I say He does), I come out as the winner as I believed in Him. If He doesn’t exist, then well, when I leave this world, so that’s it, I am not going to be punished for believing in Him. Now let’s consider you: You don’t believe in HIm. If when you die, and He really doesn’t exist, so good! But what if He exists and and you have to face Him then?? So for me, just to be on the safe side, one should believe rather than deny!

    2. Let’s leave aside all religions and prophets for a moment. Let’s forget the values, principles that religions teach. Let us also for a moment accept that if there is a GOd, then He doesn’t interfere in our matters, in our daily lives. Let’s consider only the belief that there is a God who we will ultimately go to. Is that belief beneficial? I would say YES! First example: I have a girl cousin, an orphan who lost her parents at a young age. Her life has always been hard. This girl sometimes borders on depression. Yet uptil now she has never given up, when she is feeling down it doesnt matter how much I try to console her, it doesn’t work..the only thing that works and helps her is the belief that there is an Almighty Being, she does say sometimes that He seems to have forgotten her, but still , her belief that despite all misfortunes, one day she will go to Him and have peace there, has been enough to keep her going. So again, belief in God IS beneficial (Irrespective of whether He exists or not).

    3. Belief is an Almighty God also unites all of us human beings. I look upon each person as a creation of the same God who created me, irrespective of the person’s age, ethnicity , faith etc……Those who posted the cartoons of the prophets of God have hurt my feelings, they have ridiculed my beliefs, belittled my beliefs…Yet, I would never do the same to them. I will try as much as possible to make them understand where I think they are going wrong, but I will never insult or attack them in any way. Now, if cartoons of Bahullah or Elijah have been posted, I would have reacted the same way, I would have condemned these acts…I do not believe that Bahaullah or Elijah are prophets of God but I do understand that I have friends who believe in them and such acts will make them feel deeply insulted. I would have stood with them in condemning these acts…..Now let’s consider the atheists, for them there is nothing that ties all human beings together, so they seem to have no trouble ridiculing others. I wonder Red Star, and this is a genuine question: Don’t you have good christian or muslim friends or do you stick only to like-minded people? The atheists who posted these cartoons surely must have only atheist friends or they wouldn’t have dared insult their muslim and christian friends in this way. My best friend is a Hindu, in my wildest dream I would never dare hurt her by ridiculing her religious leaders, we discuss and debate, but what is the need for such insults? The cartoons depicted two Prophets of God ‘drinking’ !!! when we all know quite well that the Holy Prphet (saw) never drank alcohol. Conclusion: Belief in God helps me keep myslef in ‘check’ I think hundred times before opening my mouth or doing something so as not to hurt somebody’s feelings.

    4. Belief that there is an Almighty God, I have seen help people stay on the ‘right’ path despite hard circumstances. There is this big argument, where I live, regarding the increasing number of violent crimes and murders, poverty is being blamed, unemployment is being blamed etc but I know people who barely have food in their house, whose eletricity go off every month because they haven’t settled the bils, yet they would never put their little finger on something that doesn’t belong to them. Here again, the only reason they don’t go down some less desirable path is their belief that there is a God who they will have to answer to one day.

    5. Please do not give me statistics or ask me to look around at the jihadists etc and how belief has harmed them and others…I gave examples from my own life how belief in God has helped me, please tell me how believing in God has harmed you, please give me an example where believing in Him caused you despair …I am not taking about religion here or about Islam or about the laws, or prophets…I am asking about the simple belief: That a God does indeed exist. Please give me an example.

    6. Considering that for me personally, belief in God (irrespective of His existence ) has helped me become a better person, a much better person than before, do you feel I should go back to my old beliefs (that God doesnt seemt to exist and if He does He must be evil…God forgive me!)and go back to my old ways (hurting others, self-harm, depression, suicide attempts)????

    Peace!

  20. Red Star,

    You remind of those Scholars who could not understand the Qur’an and then say that the Qur’an is abrogated. Do you think for awhile and reflect what you’ve read?

    You remind of those who sit in the madrassas and read nodding with their head in a unbelievable speed. Remind me of a chicken which picks grain, but not only grain, the chicken also picks up food which is not suitable for it.

    I hope I don’t sound to be offensive.

  21. Peace be upon you Red Star,

    what do Muslims overlook in detail? Can you please explain? Have you read the Qur’an? Have you made experiences yourself? Have you thought about God for a single time? Does not your God tell you to love your next?

    Even I spent time with you and in every answer you behaved dismissive. I don”t care if it was directed towards me, but I do care if it goes against my Allah, the Holy Qur’an and the Holy Prophet (Peace and Blessings of Allah be upon him).

    Qureshi Sahib has observed it very well, atheists are slaves to their ego. They will cry when they are hurt, but hurt other people’s rights. Your rights start where rights of others end.

    A merry old sound with a merry old dance. Go and study for yourself @alislam.org
    If you have questions, we’ll answer and we welcome everyone who has clean intentions. We want to talk in a peaceful manner. We are humans, not animals.

    I end with one sentence:

    Man has created laws so that he can be considered superior over animals.

    We humans are the greatest of the creation in the entire world, do we also live up to it?
    I have my doubts.

  22. Yes, I did. And yes, I did believe in Him as surely as you do. But I did so contrary to the evidence, not because of it.

    I encourage you, and all believers, to consider carefully the implications of cognitive dissonance and confirmation bias – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cognitive_dissonance & http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Confirmation_bias if you want to read up on them.

    I also encourage you to read the book ‘Why I am not a Muslim’ by Ibn Warraq. It brings home a lot of things about Islam which Muslims simply ignore, overlook or cover up.

  23. I think the above post demonstrates that the life and power of human faith is greater than the dry intellectual arguments I have presented. I feel embarrassed that all my efforts are very worthless when compared to a simple and sincere profession of faith.

    Alhamdulillah that people with faith continue to enter Islam and people without faith continue to exit from Islam.

    A brief observation: In my opinion, no human being is free. Even the atheist may be the slave of many gods, not the least being the god of his own ego.

    Peace.

  24. No I am not willing Red Star. I let go of every single thing which I believe is harmful to myself or others. But I cannot let go of my belief in God because the religion He sent, Islam gave a new meaning to my life. It enabled me to see things differently, it brought out the best in me. I once bordered on atheism too, I thought God didn’t exist, and if he does, I thought God must be evil since He created evrything. I’m past that now.

    Yes, Red Star, at one time I had to accept that whatever I have believed all my life is wrong and I did. My husband did too. We realised that the path we were treading while ‘it felt really good-absolute freedom’ in the end brings nothing but despair and destruction. You think religion brings destruction, I think it brings peace. It brought peace in my life which I try to spread everyday. Anyway, I know that you will dismiss me again as ‘religious bla bla bla’, so I won’t write too much. I can’t disbelieve in God because I have experienced HIm, I have seen his Mercy and Greatness…..Can you ask somebody whose hand has been burnt to deny that his hand was indeed in the fire? My belief results not only from logic, reason but mostly from experience. You are trying to find God through reason, through science…As a brother mentioned before, science and logic can take you only to the belief that ‘A God should exist’ but never to the higher level ‘ GOD does indeed exist’. That comes through prayers and determination to find out about Him. As for you, forget about seeking Him, you openly deny His existence. As for the allegations you levelled against the Holy Prophet (saw), you will stubbornly stick to your misunderstandings…..Islam made me a better person, I cannot and will not let go of it.

    Before denying God, did you ever turn to HIm with a clean heart and ask Him to reveal Himself? If you had, you would have believed in Him as surely as I do.

    Peace

  25. Dear All,

    I have watched with interest and admittedly with some frustration at the one-sided nature of the extended conversation.

    I think we are in danger of these exchanges becoming needlessly confrontational.

    That being said, may God bless all those who were involved and may He guide us all on the right path.

    I would have liked to ended with a quote from Hijalmar Branting, however I could not find anything particular relevant, so let me leave you with a quote from the Holy Prophet Muhammad (pboh) which is reference to his character and in particular his compassion:

    “”…if God has informed me that he would not forgive the hypocrites even if I
    prayed for them seventy times, I would pray much more than that in the hope that Allah will ultimately forgive them”

    Peace

    Num

  26. You illustrate the problem again and again. You equate the success of Muhammad to the number of states that are Muslim, to conquest, to the level of worldly triumph. I do not know your experiences or from where you were so badly presented Islam, but your understanding is sad.

    Your mentality is an extremist one.

    And the ”middle ground” is what I would refer to as respect. To respect is not to accept. In fact, it is to say that despite my misgivings about you, I am big enough to know that I can learn from you.

  27. Are you willing to let go of Islam? Are you willing to disbelieve in God? Are you willing to accept that everything you have believed for all of your life is wrong?

    I DID that. I was like you. So don’t tell me I don’t care about the truth or that I’m unwilling to let go of certain ideas and thoughts. I am saying all of the things that I am saying precisely BECAUSE I was willing to LET GO.

    The question is, are you?

  28. So there are no Muslim countries at all? So Muhammad’s mission was an abject failure?

    I actually conceded several points. It was Moosa who didn’t concede. And that’s because he cannot concede. There is no middle ground between believing in Islam and not believing in Islam. You can’t ‘sort of’ believe in Islam.

    Islam is an absolute, totalitarian, fundamentalist religion. Do you not believe every word of the Qur’an is from God and the absolute truth? Do you not believe it is mandatory to follow the commandments and etiquettes found in the Qur’an and practised by Muhammad? Do you not believe in absolute subservience to one man, whom you believe to be divinely guided and divinely appointed?

    Islam is total submission. That’s what it means! Muslims are even quite happy to say that’s what it means. What is total submission? It is becoming a corpse. It is turning into a zombie. It is obeying without question, without consideration, without conscience. It is the negation of life itself.

    You forget I was a Muslim. I have read the Qur’an repeatedly, in its entirety. This is why I can say with confidence and experience that reading it while blindly believing it to the be the perfect word of God is very different from reading it objectively. Put to one side your belief for a moment, and then look at the Qur’an and what it actually says.

    You say that the world does not benefit from those who seek fault in others. And yet Ahmadis constantly seek fault in non-Ahmadis, Muslims seek fault in non-Muslims. The entire religion of Islam seeks fault with all other religions. The Qur’an repeatedly seeks fault with most of mankind.

    So, by your own admission, your religion in no way benefits mankind.

    Lastly, I didn’t say Moosa had been defeated or that he accepted defeat. I said that he had given up.

    He has. That is a statement of fact.

    I have been repeatedly accused of dishonesty and misrepresentation, by people who present blatantly dishonest arguments and misrepresent what has been said.

    The Qur’an also finds fault with hypocrites, does it not?

    Islam is the only religion which claims to be perfect. It finds fault with everything but itself. This is, in fact, its greatest fault.

  29. Peace be upon you Red Star!!

    I agree with Brother Moosa, discussing with you seems to be futile as you keep jumping from one point to another, you stubbornly ignore the evidence and arguments presented to you and keep repeating the same mantra over and other again. I was about to post more on Aisha’s (ra) age until I realised that you do not seem to care about the truth, rather you have certain ideas and thoughts which you are very much unwilling to let go of. I am amazed that Brother Moosa spent so much of his time discussing with you, Allah bless him! And may the same God that you deny bless you Red Star with understanding!

    Peace

  30. 1. I did not say that others did not live a fulfilled life. You are, however, the one who adopted an all high and mighty position by having the sheer arrogance to say that you have freedom and we do not. What an egotistical bit of rubbish. I have at no point told you that you are not free, so check yourself and not me. These words are more frank than angry and pity is more the emotion that comes to mind and heart.

    2. Sudan is a country which does not operate by Islamic law. It does not have an Islamic legal framework and to argue anything else would be futile and uneducated. In fact, to attribute Islamic law to the Sudanese system is akin to attributing democracy to Zimbabwe because they have ”elections.” Every expert of any worth, be he pro or anti Islam, has found that not a single country in the world today operates a system of Islamic law – even Saudi Arabia. See the works of Professor William Ballantyne at SOAS for one of many examples.

    I have remained mainly silent during your conversations with Moosa and others. I did so because you do not appear at all sincere. You concede no point and feel no desire to reach a middle ground or gain knowledge for the sake of learning alone. This is despite the fact that countless non-Muslims, those, that is, who represent the actual tried and tested intelligentsia of Near Eastern studies today would view your particular statements as outdated, prejudiced, pre-modern, orientalist mumbling.

    The world does not benefit from individuals who seek fault in others and read lines and paragraphs of books rather than entire books. I believe in Almighty God, that Muhammad is the Seal of his Prophets, and that Mirza Ghulam Ahmad (upon him be peace) was sent in this age as the Guided Imam to help revive humankind. Despite the strength of my belief, I like to think that I enter any discussion with an open mind and the attitude that it is the strength of my argument, belief, and conviction which should prevail and not my ego.

    Lastly, the fact that you accused Moosa of accepting defeat reinforces what is wrong here. The purpose of entering into this discussion should have been to learn from one another and not to fight one another.

  31. So do non-Ahmadi Muslims, and non-Muslims, and non-believers. I don’t see what being Ahmadi Muslim has to do with that. The fact that your distinguish Ahmadi Muslims and think they’re ‘extraordinary’ is precisely what is wrong with religion. It makes people think they’re better than everyone else, when they’re not.

    “If freedom, as you put it, detracts from this enjoyment of life then keep it. You have not offered a better way of life, just a freer one and what good is absolute freedom if it does not add great benefit to both the individual and society.”

    Based on this logic, a Muslim country like say, Sudan, should possess a better society than a free country like say, Sweden. But it doesn’t. It’s precepts and policies should be more beneficial to its people. But they aren’t. What about other Muslim countries? The oil rich Arab countries are dens of inequality, decadence and vice, as well as factories for fundamentalism and international terrorism. Pakistan…well, you all know about the state of Pakistan. Name me one Islamic society which is a nicer one to live in than modern western secular society?

    And why do you think that is? It is because of Islam.

    And the same was true of Christianity, and virtually every religion. When Europeans were religious, back in the Middle Ages, Europe was a pretty horrible place to be.

    The ‘Islamic Golden Age’ which is being discussed elsewhere on this site existed during a period of relative irreligiosity. There was a lot more cultural diversity and laxity. Wine flowed, brushes painted and voices sang. Minds were free to think rather than being imprisoned by religion. As Muslims have become more obssessed with their religion, the Muslim world has become as horrible as the Christian world was in the Middle Ages.

    Religion poisons everything.

  32. Words without dignity – quite telling.

    Ahmadi Muslims are an extraordinarily loving group of people, they shun violence, spend much time helping others through humanitarian efforts, are socially integrated, put their money where their mouths are and give it to benefit others, enjoy fulfilled family and community lives, and are generally a content bunch. Not all perfect, but a very happy people.

    If freedom, as you put it, detracts from this enjoyment of life then keep it. You have not offered a better way of life, just a freer one and what good is absolute freedom if it does not add great benefit to both the individual and society.

  33. So, you give up? Ok.

    Just a couple of ‘parting shots’…

    1) Branting worked on the Geneva Protocols. You have correctly identified the 4 different protocols. He worked on the 2nd and 3rd. He did indeed contibute to the drafting of the text of the Convention,

    2) I’d rather die on my feet than live on my knees. If you are happy to live on your knees, then I’m sorry for your loss. Perhaps one day you too will learn the joy of being free.

  34. Dear Red Star,

    There comes a point where a man decides to turn away from another man. I am afraid I have reached that point with you.

    The reasons for this are manifold, but I will stick to a few:

    1. You have done little but criticise unconstructively. The reason I say your criticism is unconstructive is because it does not lead to any sort of improvement of knowledge. You do not appear to actually want to have your questions answered. Rather than learning from the response to your criticism, you merely move on to the next criticism. Sometimes you do you even worse: you ignore the response, then wait a few days, then make the exact same criticism again. You can see an example of this in our last few posts on the thread “Is there a God?”

    2. You ask questions but you don’t listen to the answers. For instance, you kept repeating the mantra that Aysha was aged 9, even after about five different people told you we don’t believe she was aged 9 and the evidence is not conclusive on her age. This can be quite exasperating. It makes rational dialogue impossible. I don’t quite understand why you ask questions when you don’t appear to listen to the answers. It seems a rather wasteful exercise to me.

    3. Like many ex-muslims, you appear to have an irrational hatred for Muhammad (pboh). I can only guess this is a personal grudge, based on some negative personal experiences. I have met ex-muslims particularly from Iran who have ended up hating Islam because of negative personal experiences resulting from the oppressive regime in that country. That’s understandable. But when you start blaming Muhammad (pboh) for the crime of every human being who claims to be acting in the name of Islam, this is philosophically, ethically and rationally untenable. Particularly when you refuse to blame Marx for the crimes committed in the name of Communism. Hatred is not a logical rational emotion. It is clearly clouding your judgment.

    4. You have behaved with intellectual dishonesty. For instance, pretending that we have to thank Branting for the Geneva Convention. Branting was the prime minister of one country which ratified the fourth Geneva Convention, he was irrelevant for the previous three Geneva Conventions, and he cannot take all the credit for even the fourth Convention.

    5. You have been repeatedly evasive when you are asked questions. As I said before, you have no right to ask questions when you do not answer questions. Reciprocity is a basic ethical concept which you seem completely unaware of. I am not an intellectual punching bag.

    I’m sure I can find other reasons, but to be honest… I think that this is more than enough. I’m genuinely disappointed that one of the more intellectually honest and fair-minded atheists has not posted here.

    In the words of Bob Dylan: “Fare thee well”.

    Peace,
    Moosa

  35. Dear Red Star,

    I made a list of Muhammad (pboh)’s direct achieivements.

    You made a list of what? How is Sweden’s current “lowest rate of teenage pregnancy” and burglary rates related directly to Branting?

    What you’re trying to do is put all of Sweden’s successes into one person. That’s dishonest. Branting had no direct impact on current crime rates in Sweden. I did not ask you to name a nation or a country greater than Muhammad (pboh). I asked you to name a single human being who is greater than him.

    Not only that, but you’re dishonestly seeking to attribute, for example, the Geneva Convention to Branting. He was a 4 year old child at the time of the first Geneva Convention. Why are you employing deceptive methodology?

    You’re also trying to attribute all of the crimes of muslims to Muhammad (pboh). That’s dishonest, particularly as Muhammad (pboh) completely prohibited those crimes. Do you think it’s intellectually honest to blame Muhammad (pboh) personally for the persecution of religious dissenters, when the Qur’an categorically states “There is no compulsion in religion”?

    Another example of your manifest prejudice: You’re taking a snapshot of history from the worst time in the history of the muslim world, and comparing it to the best time in swedish history. Is this an intellectually valid approach? Why don’t you compare the behaviour of Saladin to the Vikings or the Swedish king Gustavus Adolphus? How do you know that one thousand years from now, Branting’s descendants will not be invading other countries? If that were to happen, would it be fair to blame their behaviour on Branting?

    Lastly, as I have made clear, none of Branting’s successes were truly revolutionary for their time. The movement for universal suffrage was already gaining momentum before he came onto the political scene. Similarly, economic changes were inevitable with the transformation from an agrarian to an industrialist society, and political changes necessarily follow economic changes. Branting simply rode on the cusp of these movements, he did not create any new societal trend by himself. Muhammad (pboh) was a far greater innovator and revolutionary than Branting.

    Peace,
    Moosa

  36. I will deal with your claims for Muhammad’s achievements later. In the meantime, ponder upon this:

    What is Muhammad’s LEGACY? What have his minions wrought upon the world after him, and in his name, and in the name of his God and his religion?

    I have listed to you the legacy of Hjalmar Branting in Sweden. Can you bring me one Islamic nation in the world today which is even vaguely comparable?

    What about 50 years after Muhammad’s death? Why was there such inequality and injustice in the Islamic world? Wealthy despots ruled over impoverished slaves, and kept women as possessions. They conquered and ruled brutally. They drank and gambled with the rest of them. They even murdered the grandchildren of their beloved prophet.

    What about the wars? The conflicts? The conquests? The military expansion? The rapes and forced marriages? What about the second-class status of non-Muslims (as ‘dhimmis’ – forced to pay a tax for their ‘security’ in accordance with Islamic law)? What about the pogroms against Jews and other minorities, and the regular persecution and suppression of religious dissenters, ‘heretics’ and ‘blasphemers’ and ‘apostates’ all put to death?

    And all of this persists until this day.

    Where are Muhammad’s achievements now? Or perhaps they are achievements only in the imagination. Perhaps what we see of Islam today is indeed the true legacy of what Muhammad actually brought upon the world.

  37. Dear Red Star,

    I will list here some of the qualities and achievements which make Muhammad (pboh) the greatest person in human history. I should emphasise that I’m sure I’m not doing justice to him, and other people may add many other great qualities in him that I have not described. This is only a sample:

    1. His father died when he was aged 6 months and his mother died when he was aged 6 years. He then passed to the care of his grandfather, who in turn died when he was aged 8. He then lived under the care of his uncle. The fact that he achieved so much with such an inauspicious and unsupported childhood is a tribute to his greatness. Most great men (for instance, Hjalmar Branting) are themselves the sons of great and educated men. It is difficult to evaluate how much of their greatness is within themselves and how much is the product of education and encouragement by others. Muhammad (pboh)’s greatness was that he achieved greatness without much help from any other human.

    2. He fundamentally altered the course of human history. Let me explain how this is singular in him. Let us juxtapose him with Hitler, for example. Hitler had a great influence on human history, but he did not fundamentally alter its course. For instance, the German nation already had recently provoked a world war even previous to Hitler’s political prominence. Then after war reparations and economic hardship, the German nation were ripe and ready for another war. Anti-semitism also had a long history in Germany, and Hitler simply took advantage of these conditions to formulate a political policy based on German military prowess and anti-semitic ideology.Muhammad (pboh) did not come to a nation with a history of military prowess, in fact the Arabs were comprised of various tribes and sub-tribes who had never united or comprised a significant mover in world history. The great empires of the time were the Roman and Persian empires. Muhammad (pboh) united the Arabs and created a new “Islamic nation” which became a significant player in world history.

    3. Perhaps as importantly, he fundamentally altered society. Before him, the Arabs were famed for drinking alcohol to excess, female infanticide, mutilation of enemies in battle. Women and slaves were treated as chattels. These practises had continued for hundreds of years. Within a few years, Muhammad (pboh) had managed to bring about the widespread voluntary abstinence from alcohol. Even if this were his one single achievement, it would alone place him above the entire United States government, which in the 1920s completely failed to ban alcohol during Prohibition. Why was this achievement so great? Look at NHS statistics. In 2007/08 there were around 863,300 hospital admissions related to alcohol in the UK. 62,400 of these admissions were wholly attributable to alcohol alone, primarly mental problems and alcoholic liver disease. 6,541 deaths were directly related to alcohol in 2007. In 2003, the Cabinet Office estimated that alcohol misuse costs the NHS £1.7 billion per annum, and costs of alcohol-related crime was £7.3 billion per annum.Not to mention the human cost.

    4. The above social transformation was never brought about by any other human in history. Other humans merely built on the achievements of previous humans, in an incremental fashion, little by little. Hjalmar Branting’s achievements did not come about in the same ideological vacuum which Muhammad (pboh) operated inside. For instance, the Swedish peasantry had never been enserfed as elsewhere in Europe, therefore the Swedish farming culture rapidly took on a critical role in the Swedish political process, this may explain why Swedish socialism progressed quickly in Sweden. Therefore Swedish political progress was not solely the work of Branting, it built on a long history of political progress. Similarly the abolition of slavery wasn’t achieved by one person over a period of twenty years. The right of women to vote wasn’t achieved by one person over twenty years. The scientific revolution wasn’t achieved by one person in twenty years.

    In fact, the pre-islamic Arabs were in many ways similar to or even more barbaric than pagan celts in early England, and within twenty years Muhammad (pboh) altered them so that socially (I won’t mention spirituality here) they were at least as advanced as 20th century citizens of the United Kingdom. For instance, even in the 19th century, British people would commonly wash every few months, and this led in turn to serious hygiene and health problems. Muhammad (pboh) taught Arabs to bathe and wash regularly, which didn’t happen in the UK until modern times.

    5. Muhammad (pboh) regulated warfare and protected the rights of civilians during wartime, 1300 years before the Geneva Conventions. Red Star has told us we have to thank Hijalmar Branting for the Geneva Conventions, but in fact the first convention was the idea and work of Henry Dunant in 1864, when Branting was aged 4. The second two conventions were in 1906 and 1929. The Fourth Convention finally protected the rights of civilians and was passed in 1949. Perhaps Branting contributed to this (I don’t know) but it certainly wasn’t his sole effort, and in any case Muhammad (pboh) single-handedly commanded that women and children were not to be attacked during battles 13 centuries previously. Muhammad (pboh) also brought a teaching which commanded proportionate retaliation (proposed 13 centuries later in the Unite Nations Charter) and forbade injustice to enemies. Furthermore, Muhammad (pboh)’s regulation of warfare was entirely innovative at that time, it was common practice to massacre populations during wartime. The Fourth Convention was not innovative in the same way. It followed on from a long process of regulating warfare which took almost 100 years, from 1864 to 1949.

    6. He taught racial equality, which was a completely novel concept in pre-islamic Arabia. He declared that an Arab has no superiority over a non-Arab nor a non-Arab has any superiority over an Arab; also a white has no superiority over black nor a black has any superiority over white except by piety and good action.The pre-islamic Arabs were largely uneducated and illiterate. Muhammad (pboh) encouraged them to “seek knowledge even if it were in China” and the result of this encouragement was that the Arabs travelled far and acquired knowledge from many sources, including Greece and India, in philosophy, science and mathematics, developed this knowledge, and transmitted this knowledge to Western Europe, thereby contributing greatly to the international advancement of philosophy and science. This was entirely novel, nothing before Muhammad (pboh) even remotely predicted that something of this nature would happen.

    7. Historians generally agree that Islamic social reforms in areas such as social security, family structure, slavery and the rights of women and children improved on the status quo of Arab society [Lewis, Watt, Esposito] For example, according to Bernard Lewis in his book “Islamic Revolution”, Islam “from the first denounced aristocratic privilege, rejected hierarchy, and adopted a formula of the career open to the talents”. Muhammad’s message transformed the society and moral order of life in the Arabian Peninsula through reorientation of society as regards to identity, world view, and the hierarchy of values.The Encyclopedia of Ethics recgonises that Islam’s economic reforms addressed the plight of the poor, which was becoming an issue in pre-Islamic Mecca. The Quran required payment of a revolutionary alms tax (zakat) for the benefit of the poor.

    8. Muhammad (pboh) brought the Qur’an. Leave aside the spiritual validity of this book, which is disagreed upon by atheists and muslims. But even in terms of pure linguistic impact, the Qur’an made a huge impact on Arab literature and language. The main areas in which the Qur’an exerted noticeable influence on Arabic literature are diction and themes; other areas are related to the literary aspects of the Qur’an particularly oaths, metaphors, motifs, and symbols. As far as diction is concerned, one could say that Qur’anic words, idioms, and expressions, especially “loaded” and formulaic phrases, appear in practically all genres of literature and in such abundance that it is simply impossible to compile a full record of them. For not only did the Qur’an create an entirely new linguistic corpus to express its message, it also endowed old, pre-Islamic words with new meanings and it is these meanings that took root in the language and subsequently in the literature.

    9. Compassion and Forgiveness. Muhammad (pboh) was born into a very savage society, and again this makes him greater than a man who is born into, for instance, 20th century Sweden and does something good in that society. As an example of the savagery of pre-islamic Arabia, it is well-known that Hind cannibalised the body of Muhammad (pboh)’s uncle after a battle. Hind was one of the non-muslims who was captured after the fall of Makkah. Muhammad (pboh) forgave Hind and granted her full amnesty and freedom, as he did to the vast majority of non-muslims who had committed atrocities against the muslims. Even today, in modern times, the United States could not forgive an atrocity, in fact when Osama bin Laden committed an atrocity against the United States by killing 3000 civilians, the USA by way of retribution immediately killed about 3500 innocent afghani civilians during “Operation Enduring Freedom” and has killed about 3000 afghani civilians per annum since then; surprisingly, this continues until now. 1400 years ago, the norms of politics were even far worse. At that time in history, it was common for entire cities to be massacred simply for not immediately capitulating to an invader, let alone Makkah which had persecuted Muhammad (pboh) for twenty years. This act of forgiveness by Muhammad (pboh) is unparalleled in human history.

    10. Courage and Tenacity. When Muhammad (pboh) began preaching his message of the unity of God, he was largely unsuccessful, the vast majority of people rejected him, only a handful accepted him. There was no evidence that he would succeed. However, the Makkans were worried about the effect his preaching would have on their idol-based economy and trade, therefore they tried to bribe him with wealth if he would stop preaching the Unity of God. His reply to them was: “If you put the sun in my right hand and the moon in my left hand, never will I cease from preaching the Unity of God”.

    11. Humility. There are numerous examples of Muhammad (pboh)’s humility and simplicity, which are even more remarkable considering that his followers considered him a representative of God and therefore (in their eyes) even greater than any king or emperor. He could easily have taken advantage of their reverence. But in contrast to worldly kings, he lived his life in a simple basic house, he used to clean the floor himself, he would help his wives with household chores, he ate very little, he died with no fine clothes or furniture, only a rough mat he slept on.

    12. He lived according to his principles, and his actions followed his words. He did not profess communism, and yet he died with no property, he left no inheritance for his children, he gave all his income to the poor and disadvantaged people. This is in contrast with those leaders in history who professed communism, but amassed wealth and power and handed this on to their children.

    This is only a very incomplete list but I’ll stop here. I’ll let you put forward Branting’s greatness now.

    Peace,
    Moosa

  38. ACHIEVEMENTS BY DATE

    1884-1886 Editor of ‘Tiden’ (‘The Times’) in Stockholm

    1886-1917 Editor of ‘Socialdemkraten’ (‘The Social Democrat’), a journal for workers that advocated labour rights and democratic reform through practical Socialism

    1889 Formed Swedish Social Democratic Party

    1896 Elected as the first Social Democratic Member of the Lower House of the Riksdag (Parliament) representing Stockholm; advocated labour reform, decried legislation against unions, pled for universal suffrage, and advocated a peaceful solution of the unilateral decision of Norway to separate from the union with Sweden

    1907-25 President of the Social Democratic Labour Party

    1917 Minister of Finance in the Liberal-Social Democratic coalition government; advocated Swedish neutrality during World War I

    1919 Swedish Delegate to the Versailles Peace Conference; supported the adoption of the Covenant of the League of Nations

    1919 Chairman of the Berne Conference of the Second (Socialist) International

    1920 Swedish representative at the London negotiations regarding the future of the Åland Islands, disputed territory between Sweden and Finland (allowed League of Nations to decide objectively upon the issue)

    1920-1923 Prime Minister

    1920-1924 Swedish Delegate to the League of Nations; served as Chairman of the Assembly’s Committee on Disarmament, participated in the settlement of the Greek-Italian conflict, negotiated in the Mosul dispute between Britain and Turkey, and helped draft the Geneva Protocol

    1923 Member of the Council of the League of Nations

    1924-1925 Prime Minister

    1921 Nobel Peace Prize Laureate

    ACHIEVEMENTS WHICH BENEFITED SWEDEN

    Estalbishment and organisation of the Social Democratic Party, which both electorally and in terms of long-term prosperity and administrative effectiveness has been one of the most (if not THE most successful political party in the world).

    The achievements of Branting’s party and policies:

    Universal suffrage

    Progressive taxation.

    Low unemployment.

    Active-Market based welfare state.

    Sweden emerged successfully, with virtually no economic problems, after the Great Depression of the 1930s.

    Neutrality and impartiality during global conflicts, without sacrificing national defence.

    Under the Social Democratic Party (which has governed Sweden for over half of its entire parliamentary history), Sweden has never committed an act of aggression against another country (only the Conservatives have supported the NATO coalition in Afghanistan with forces) – the USA even severed relations with Sweden during the Vietnam War because of its opposition to the conflict.

    Virtually total elimination of sexism and racism from Sweden (one of the most liberal, tolerant and equal societies in the World).

    Sweden is one of the most environmentally-friendly countries on Earth, with negligible use of fossil fuels for energy (less than 10%) and extensive use of renewable and natural energy (such as hydroelectric).

    Sweden is one of the cleanest countries in the world.

    Sweden has among the lowest rates of burglary, car theft and drug problems in Europe.

    Sweden has among the lowest levels of teenage pregnancy in the World.

    Sweden has among the lowest levels of corruption in the World.

    Sweden is ranked the second most competitive country in the World (after Switzerland).

    Sweden has one of the most sucessfully and globally admired education systems in the World.

    Sweden has the lowest Gino coefficient of all countries and is thus ranked FIRST as the most economically equal country on Earth.

    ACHIEVEMENTS WHICH BENEFITED THE WORLD & HUMANITY

    Establishing the original Geneva Convention (international law and standards for humanitarian treatment of all people during war).

    Promotion of universal suffrage (Hjalmar Branting was first leader to be elected with universal suffrage during his second term).

    Promotion of peace between countries, international co-operation and the fraternity of nations.

    Promotion of women’s rights.

    Promotion of fair trade.

    High levels of humanitarian and developmental aid to countries across the globe.

    Opposition to armed conflict and military adventurism.

  39. Yes, list them please. Doesn’t have to be single “bullet” words. You can elaborate on each point. But listing his great personal qualities and achievements will make it easier.

  40. Most people have never heard of Mirza Ghulam Ahmad, either.

    And yes, he did benefit you. Ever heard of the Geneva Convention? Ever heard of universal suffrage (right of all adult men and women to vote)? Ever heard of welfare, healthcare (if your a Yank, then medicare or medicaid)? Ever heard of labour rights(you know, the reason you don’t have to work for peanuts when your 5 years old like people in some parts of the world; and the reason why you have working hours, minimum wage, a pension etc)?

  41. There are plenty of reasons in his bio, which I hope you’ve read.

    If you want it in a bullet point list of qualities and achievements, that’s fine. Then I expect the same for Muhammad.

    “listing his failures as well as his successes.”

    And the same for Muhammad, then.

    “I’ll then do the same for Muhammad (pboh). I’ll try to restrict myself to his tangible achievements, since you don’t accept that there is a God.”

    Should be interesting.

  42. Okay, Red Star, thanks for choosing this example, because it’s educational for me to learn more about this great man. Can you please list the qualities and achievements which make him great in your opinion? This will make it easier to compare. I’ll then list the qualities and achievements of Muhammad (pboh) which make him great in my opinion.

    Regarding time limits, of course we could continue with this process indefinitely. But why go on indefinitely when we can resolve the problem much sooner? My contention is that Muhammad (pboh) is the greatest individual in human history, therefore the process can be very simplified if you put forward your candidate for the greatest human in history. The process would be unnecessarily delayed if you put forward (for example) the tenth greatest individual in human history, because that would leave open the possibility that the ninth or the seventh or the fifth greatest person was greater than Muhammad (pboh). This is why I’ve asked you to propose the person you think is the greatest human in history. I’m happy to accept Hijalmar Branting if you’re proposing his name on that basis.

    Please list his great qualities, and then I’ll proceed to enumerate the greatness of Muhammad (pboh).

    Peace,
    Moosa

  43. Hjalmar Branting. Final.

    And, to be fair, most of us are busy individuals with many commitments. I don’t see why that should be a problem. No one is holding a proverbial gun to our heads. There aren’t any deadlines or time limits here.

    Just take your time!

  44. Never heard the name Hijalmar Branting before. I hope he was good, but, at least he did not benefit me or the people that I know, directly or indirectly.

  45. Also,once you’ve decided for sure if you want to select Hijalmar Branting, I need your reasons why you think he’s great. You’ve only given a bio sketch, listing his failures as well as his successes. Please give me a list of his qualities and his achievements which make him great, in your opinion.

    I’ll then do the same for Muhammad (pboh). I’ll try to restrict myself to his tangible achievements, since you don’t accept that there is a God.

    Peace,
    Moosa

  46. Sorry, your last post only appeared after I posted my last request for only one person.

    Before I go to the trouble of responding, can I clarify… is Hijalmar Branting your final choice for the person who is greater than Muhammad (pboh)?

    I need to know this, because obviously I don’t have the time to go through each and every great person who has existed in history. Therefore I want you to choose the very best. Remember, this is your one shot.

    So is it Hijalmar Branting, or do you want to go for somebody else?

    I’ll await your final decision before I proceed to put my case for Muhammad (pboh).

    Peace,
    Moosa

  47. One more thing, Red Star. I request that you kindly select only one person who you propose is greater than Muhammad (pboh). I genuinely have time constraints, travel a long distance to work, and I have sick patients to look after, therefore I do not have time to compare 7 different people to Muhammad (pboh). I allowed you a false start with Gandhi. But now please select only one person, whoever is the best in your opinion.

    Also, I don’t mean any of my criticisms to be taken personally. When I say you’re being illogical, what I really mean is that you’re saying something which is illogical in my opinion. You yourself are generally a logical human being.

    Peace,
    Moosa

  48. A biography of Hjalmar Branting, who won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1921 and who set his country, Sweden, on the path to becoming probably the most progressive, open, free, equal, just and successful nation in the world; as well as being the greatest champion and maker of international peace. He gave women the same rights as men and became the first leader of a nation in human history to be elected to office by universal suffrage. A truly noble and selfless soul, whose contribution to humanity is possily second to none.

    “The father of socialism in Sweden, Karl Hjalmar Branting (November 23, 1860-February 24, 1925) was born in Stockholm, the only child of Professor Lars Branting, one of the principal developers of the Swedish school of gymnastics. He was educated at the exclusive Beskow School in Stockholm, passing his matriculation examination at the age of seventeen, with a distinguished record in mathematics and Latin. After studying at the University of Uppsala for the next five years, concentrating on mathematics and astronomy, he accepted a position in 1882 as an assistant to the director of the Stockholm Observatory.

    But Branting was a social scientist as well as a natural scientist. By 1880 he had adopted liberal views, which had their origin in his studies and observations on social and cultural questions. In 1881 when he learned that the Stockholm Workers Institute, which provided lectures and courses of study for workingmen, had been denied financial support by the city, he contributed from his personal funds the amount necessary to keep the Institute open. For Branting the year of 1883 proved decisive. In Paris he heard the lectures of the French Socialist, Paul Lafargue; in Zurich he learned about German socialist doctrine from Eduard Bernstein, who was publishing Der Sozial-Demokrat while in self-imposed exile; wherever he went – including Russia – he tested his thinking in discussion with workingmen and social philosophers.

    Giving up his scientific career in 1884, Branting joined the staff of the radical Stockholm paper Tiden [The Times] as foreign editor. He became editor-in-chief the next year but, like his predecessor in that office, was unable to solve the financial crises which periodically afflicted the paper. Upon its demise in 1886, Branting became chief editor of another socialist newspaper, Socialdemokraten, making this journal, in the course of his thirty-one years’ association with it, a textbook for the education of the workers and a potent force in Swedish politics. Radical though Branting was, he taught evolution rather than revolution, believing that true democracy could not exist without the active involvement of the workingmen and that any socialist philosophy not based on the democratic concept was a mockery. Branting was not a utopian doctrinaire then or afterwards. Thirty years later, in 1918 for instance, he contended that socialism was an applied theory of democratic development and that communism, on the contrary, was an oligarchy, an enemy of democracy and an enticement to economic disaster in its demand for destruction of proprietary rights.

    Branting was not only the schoolmaster of the movement, he was also its recruiter and field marshal. He formed workingmen’s clubs, helped to organize unions, supported strikes, directed strategy. In demand as a speaker at innumerable meetings, he became one of the most skillful speakers in the land, noted for his logical argument, precision of style, blunt honesty, warmth of personality.

    He was the directing genius behind the formation of the Social Democratic Labor Party in 1889, serving as its president from 1907 until his death. To advance the aspirations of the workingman, political action should, he believed, be enmeshed with industrial action, not superimposed upon it.

    Elected to the Lower Chamber of the Parliament in 1896 from a workingmen’s constituency in Stockholm, Branting was the sole Social Democrat to hold a seat until 1902. In Parliament he gave visibility to the rights of workers, decried legislation against unions, pled for universal suffrage, supported national defence, and advocated peaceful solution of the crisis between Sweden and Norway over the dissolution of the union in 1905. Meanwhile, the power of his party grew: in 1902 there were four Social Democrats out of a total membership of 230 in the Lower Chamber of the Parliament; in 1903, thirteen; in 1908, thirty-four; in 1911, sixty-four; in 1914, seventy-two; in 1921, a hundred and ten.

    By 1917, the Social Democrats were a strong third party in what had traditionally been a two-party system. In that year the Social Democrats joined the Liberals in a coalition government, with Branting as minister of finance. The coalition sponsored the constitutional reform of 1919, extending the franchise to all males (women receiving the vote in 1921 under Branting’s government), but it was dissolved when the Liberals refused to support the Social Democrats’ demands for tax reform, unemployment insurance, and nationalization.

    Branting then formed his first government, depending upon Liberal support since he did not command a majority in Parliament. When the power of the Liberal Party appeared to be diminishing, he dissolved the Parliament in October of 1920, but the ensuing elections went against him. He returned to the prime ministry in October, 1921, retaining the foreign affairs portfolio and departed in April, 1923, when faced by a combination of the Liberals and Conservatives. When the elections of 1924 gave the Social Democrats a majority over each of the other two parties, Branting, for the third time, became prime minister, resigning in January, 1925, when his health failed.

    Branting’s lifelong interest in international affairs was intensified during and after World War I. He supported the Allied position but insisted upon Swedish neutrality, tried to preserve the international solidarity of the labor-union movement, served as Sweden’s representative to the Paris Peace Conference in 1919, advocated adoption of the Covenant of the League of Nations. He led the successful movement to bring Sweden into the League, served as the Swedish delegate to the League, and was named to the Council of the League in 1923. Branting was chairman of the Assembly’s Committee on Disarmament in 1920-1921 and a member of the Council’s Committee on Disarmament in 1924; he participated in the settlement of the Greek-Italian conflict of 1923 and served as rapporteur in the Mosul dispute between Britain and Turkey in 1924; he was involved in the drafting of the Geneva Protocol, a proposed international security system requiring arbitration between hostile nations.

    Branting was a constitutional pacifist. He believed that security should be based on functional principles of justice, that truth in dispute could best be found through arbitration by a judicial body, not through survival in trial by combat.

    By the age of sixty-five, through his continuous and exacting labors, he had worn out a powerful physique bequeathed to him by heredity and strengthened by the discipline of gymnastics. He died in February, 1925, and was buried in Stockholm.”

  49. Dear Red Star,

    Now you’re really becoming very illogical, even anti-logical. I don’t say this lightly. Let me explain.

    34n. Red Star, your proposal actually defeats the entire purpose of the question “who is the greatest?”. If we allow your argument (that a person cannot be great if others do not accept his religion), then in that case Gandhi was not great (because everybody did not become hindu), Karl Marx was not great (because everybody did not become marxist), Abraham Lincoln was not great (because everybody did not become Republican), etc etc. It would seem that you reject any non-muslim’s tribute to Muhammad (pboh). But if I gave you only muslim tributes to Muhammad (pboh), then presumably you would object that “they’re only saying this because they’re muslim”. So whose testimony is acceptable to you?

    You are an atheist, so surely you must believe that there are moral qualities that transcend one’s personal religious belief: honesty, courage, compassion, chivalry, generosity, etc. You would accept that a person can be courageous whether he is christian, muslim, atheist of whatever. Obviously, when I asked you to bring a person who is greater than Muhammad (pboh), I was not asking you about personal religious convictions, I was asking you to bring a person who had greater basic moral qualities.

    These quotations are simply testimony from non-believers in the greatness of Muhammad (pboh). They speak of basic human qualities which make a person great. That has absolutely nothing to do with their personal religious convictions. It has to do with the fact that honest sincere people can appreciate great qualities in a person, whatever their personal religious or political differences.

    Now I repeat: stop avoiding the challenge. Bring your evidence in favour of one person in the entire human history who you think is greater than Muhammad (pboh).

    Peace,
    Moosa

  50. Pingback: List of Converts to Islam « Islam is Peace

  51. Red Star conversion is multi-factorial, it not only requires appreciating the message, but also requires several other ingredients. There are plenty of converted scholars also. For starters, check out Dr. Jerald Dirks from Harvard Divinity School, Yusuf Islam (Cat Stevens) and boxer Muhammad Ali in books and in Youtube etc. Here is the Wikipedia page of Cat Stevens:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cat_Stevens

    Additionally, if all these orientalists had converted you would discount their testimonies on other grounds. If you would rather see the testimony of the completely converted then think about the 1.5 billion Muslims as the children of the converted!

  52. ” The question we’re discussing in arguments 33 and 34 isn’t whether people convert to Islam or even whether Islam is true. The question is the greatness of Muhammad (pboh). Please stick to the topic.”

    No, I’m not having this. If they genuinely believed Muhammad was that great, then why wouldn’t they convert to Islam? Was his example lacking in some way? Was his message erroneous in some way? You’ve portrayed it so that it looks like these legions of non-Muslims are praising Muhammad – but why would these people, who, according to you, think Muhammad is the greatest man who ever lived, then completely ignore his message?

    As for Islam being true, if it isn’t, then Muhammad was liar. In which case, how could he be as great as you claim these people are making him out to be? If they didn’t believe him to be a liar, why didn’t they accept the ‘truth’ that he brought?

  53. “I note that you haven’t provided any evidence for any one of your examples being greater than Muhammad (pboh). You haven’t even picked one example, perhaps because you’re afraid the same thing will happen as happened with your Gandhi example.That may be why you’re hiding behind numbers and giving me 7 examples, without actually providing any concrete evidence regarding even 1 of them. I will therefore conclude that you have no evidence that any man in human history is greater than Muhammad (pboh).”

    Poppycock. I’m taking my time gathering all of the evidence – of which there is a lot.

    “I’d simply admit that Muhammad (pboh) achieved more (far more) than any human being before or after him”

    What. exactly. did he achieve?

    I thought you believed God told him what to say/do and that in fact it was God who does everything. From your point of view, then, Muhammad would’ve achieved precisely nothing…

    In order for you to espouse the belief that Muhammad ‘achieved more than any other human being’ you would have to discard your belief in your almighty God.

  54. Dear Red Star,

    None of them converted to communism either. The question we’re discussing in arguments 33 and 34 isn’t whether people convert to Islam or even whether Islam is true. The question is the greatness of Muhammad (pboh). Please stick to the topic.

    I note that you haven’t provided any evidence for any one of your examples being greater than Muhammad (pboh). You haven’t even picked one example, perhaps because you’re afraid the same thing will happen as happened with your Gandhi example.That may be why you’re hiding behind numbers and giving me 7 examples, without actually providing any concrete evidence regarding even 1 of them. I will therefore conclude that you have no evidence that any man in human history is greater than Muhammad (pboh).

    If I were you, I’d simply admit that Muhammad (pboh) achieved more (far more) than any human being before or after him. It’s a fact. Atheists are supposed to like facts.

    Peace,
    Moosa

  55. “These were all non-muslims, Red Star. Is that not striking?”

    And yet none of them converted to Islam…strange that, isn’t it?

  56. Dear Red Star,

    34m. I thought a few quotations might help you identify a leader greater than Muhammad (pboh):

    Washington Irving (1783-1859) Well-known as the “first American man of letters”.
    “He was sober and abstemious in his diet, and a rigorous observer of fasts. He indulged in no magnificence of apparel, the ostentation of a petty mind; neither was his simplicity in dress affected, but the result of a real disregard to distinction from so trivial a source … In his private dealings he was just. He treated friends and strangers, the rich and poor, the powerful and the weak, with equity, and was beloved by the common people for the affability with which he received them, and listened to their complaints … His military triumphs awakened no pride nor vain glory, as they would have done had they been effected for selfish purposes. In the time of his greatest power he maintained the same simplicity of manners and appearance as in the days of his adversity. So far from affecting regal state, he was displeased if, on entering a room, any unusual testimonial of respect were shown to him.” [Life of Mahomet, London, 1889, pp. 192-3, 199]

    Michael H. Hart (1932- ) Professor of astronomy, physics and the history of science.
    “My choice of Muhammad to lead the list of the world’s most influential persons may surprise some readers and may be questioned by others, but he was the only man in history who was supremely successful on both the religious and secular level.” [The 100: A Ranking Of The Most Influential Persons In History, New York, 1978, p. 33]

    William Montgomery Watt (1909- ) Professor (Emeritus) of Arabic and Islamic Studies at the University of Edinburgh.
    “His readiness to undergo persecutions for his beliefs, the high moral character of the men who believed in him and looked up to him as leader, and the greatness of his ultimate achievement – all argue his fundamental integrity. To suppose Muhammad an impostor raises more problems than it solves. Moreover, none of the great figures of history is so poorly appreciated in the West as Muhammad.” [Mohammad At Mecca, Oxford, 1953, p. 52]

    Alphonse de Lamartine (1790-1869) French poet and statesman.
    “Philosopher, orator, apostle, legislator, warrior, conqueror of ideas, restorer of rational dogmas, of a cult without images; the founder of twenty terrestrial empires and of one spiritual empire, that is Muhammad. As regards all standards by which human greatness may be measured, we may well ask, is there any man greater than he?”[Translated from Histoire De La Turquie, Paris, 1854, vol. II, pp. 276-277]

    Reverend Bosworth Smith (1794-1884) Late Fellow of Trinity College, Oxford.
    “… he was Caesar and Pope in one; but he was Pope without the Pope’s pretensions, and Caesar without the legions of Caesar. Without a standing army, without a bodyguard, without a palace, without a fixed revenue, if ever any man had the right to say that he ruled by a right Divine, it was Mohammed; for he had all the power without its instruments and without its supports.” Mohammed and Mohammedanism, London, 1874, p. 235]

    Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi (1869-1948) Indian thinker, statesman, and nationalist leader.
    “….I became more than ever convinced that it was not the sword that won a place for Islam in those days in the scheme of life. It was the rigid simplicity, the utter self-effacement of the prophet, the scrupulous regard for his pledges, his intense devotion to his friends and followers, his intrepidity, his fearlessness, his absolute trust in God and in his own mission. These, and not the sword carried everything before them and surmounted every trouble.” [Young India (periodical), 1928, Volume X]

    Edward Gibbon (1737-1794) Considered the greatest British historian of his time.
    “The greatest success of Mohammad’s life was effected by sheer moral force without the stroke of a sword.”
    [History Of The Saracen Empire, London, 1870]

    John William Draper (1811-1882) American scientist, philosopher, and historian.
    “Four years after the death of Justinian, A.D. 569, was born at Mecca, in Arabia the man who, of all men exercised the greatest influence upon the human race . . . Mohammed.” [A History of the Intellectual Development of Europe, London, 1875, vol.1, pp. 329-330]

    Annie Besant (1847-1933) British theosophist and nationalist leader in India. President of the Indian National Congress in 1917.
    “It is impossible for anyone who studies the life and character of the great Prophet of Arabia, who knows how he taught and how he lived, to feel anything but reverence for that mighty Prophet, one of the great messengers of the Supreme. And although in what I put to you I shall say many things which may be familiar to many, yet I myself feel whenever I re-read them, a new way of admiration, a new sense of reverence for that mighty Arabian teacher.” [The Life And Teachings Of Muhammad, Madras, 1932, p. 4]

    Edward Gibbon (1737-1794) Considered the greatest British historian of his time.
    “His (i.e., Muhammad’s) memory was capacious and retentive, his wit easy and social, his imagination sublime, his judgment clear, rapid and decisive. He possessed the courage of both thought and action.”[History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, London, 1838, vol.5, p.335]

    These were all non-muslims, Red Star. Is that not striking?

    Peace,
    Moosa

  57. @ Peace

    “Aisha (ra) was not 9 years old. She was atleast 15 y when the marriage was consummated. In the society at that time at 15 y one was well ready for the responsibilities of a marriage. The belief that she was 9 years, dear red star is pure fabrication and deception.”

    What references/evidence can you bring which show she was at least 15? Zafrullah Khan is not a primary source, and he provides no references to his sources in the extract you have provided.

    From Wikipedia:

    “Aisha stayed in her parents’ home for several years until she joined Muhammad and the marriage was consummated.[6][8][9][11][12][13] Most of the sources indicate that she was nine years old at the time, with the single exception of al-Tabari, who records that she was ten.[8] The sources do not offer much more information about Aisha’s childhood years, but mention that after the wedding, she continued to play with her toys, and that Muhammad entered into the spirit of these games.[14]

    The issue of Aisha’s age at the time she was married to Muhammad has been of interest since the earliest days of Islam, and references to her age by early historians are frequent. Early Muslims regarded Aisha’s youth as demonstrating her virginity and therefore her suitability as a bride of Muhammad. According to Spellberg, historians who supported Aisha’s position in the debate of the succession to Muhammad against Shi’a claims considered her youth, and therefore her purity, to be of paramount importance. They thus specifically emphasized it, implying that as Muhammad’s only virgin wife, Aisha was divinely intended for him, and therefore the most credible in the debate.[8]”

    As for her ‘happily married life’, what about her opposition to a ‘rightly-guided’ Khalifa (a concept you Ahmadis hold so dear) and the consequences of her actions after Muhammad’s death:

    “During the rule of Ali ibn Abi Talib, the fourth successor of Muhammad, Aisha and two other male allies publicly opposed Ali ibn Abi Talib’s power.[33] Political control over Islam soon escalated to bloodshed. After the death of Uthman, as mentioned in previous sections, a veiled Aisha delivered a public address at the mosque in Mecca. In the address she swore to avenge Uthman’s death. Her charismatic speech eventually influenced many to join the cause against Ali ibn Abi Talib. Her desire to avenge Uthman’s death eventually led to the Battle of the Camel. During the Battle of the Camel, Aisha exhibited her role as a commander by directing her men into battle. Her position as commander positively impacted the organization and direction of the men fighting. Ali ibn Abi Talib soon realized the power Aisha had over the men, and ordered his men to kill her camel. Once the orders had been completed, Aisha was unable to direct her men. Without her command, the men quickly became disorganized, subsequently losing the important battle.[34]”

  58. Thank you ‘Peace,’ for a very lucid and moving presentation, about age of Hadhrat Ayesha at the time of her marriage! I am becoming increasingly convinced of the utility of this website.

    Peace!

  59. ASA
    I only wanted to clarify a few points regarding Hadrat Aisha’s age.

    RED STAR you keep insisting that she was 9 years old when not every historian agree on that point. I quote from Chaudary Muhammad Zafrullah Khan’s book:

    ‘It will be recalled that the ceremony of marriage between the Holy Prophet, peace be on him, and Aisha, younger daughter of Abu Bakr, had been performed in Mecca approximately three years before the Migration to Medina. The wedding took place two years after the Migration, when Aisha’s age had approximated to fifteen years. Some historians have fallen into error with regard to her age at the time of the wedding. Thorough research has, however, established that at the time of the ceremony of marriage in Mecca, Aisha was between ten and eleven years of age, and that the wedding took place in Medina between four to five years after the ceremony of marriage. This puts beyond doubt that, at the time of the wedding, Aisha’s age was at least fifteen years.

    Aisha’s mind and memory were extraordinary. Under the Holy Prophet’s supervision, instruction and training, her faculties developed very rapidly, and as she observed the life of her illustrious husband very minutely and never forgot a single word that she heard from him, she performed a matchless service for the faith in the instruction and training of Muslim women in all aspects of the teachings of Islam. The greater part of the information that has become available about the daily life of the Holy Prophet is based on the reports of Aisha. She was esteemed most highly by the leading Companions of the Holy Prophet after his death, on account of her superior knowledge and understanding of the faith. Whenever they encountered any intellectual difficulty, they had recourse to Aisha, who always succeeded in resolving the difficulty for them. She survived the Holy Prophet for about forty years and died at the age of sixty-eight.’

    RED STAR- Aisha (ra) was not 9 years old. She was atleast 15 y when the marriage was consummated. In the society at that time at 15 y one was well ready for the responsibilities of a marriage. The belief that she was 9 years, dear red star is pure fabrication and deception.

    I got married at 18 y and that too because the law requires that we wait until I turned 18 y otherwise I would have gone for it much earlier.

    Now please consider this: No critic of Islam has ever questioned Aisha’s happy married life. They might question her age but not the fact that she loved her husband and was happy to be married to him. Dear red star, kindly tell me if a woman and man get married and are happy together, then why should one make an issue of their age???? My husband is 13 y older than me and that doesn’t stop us from leading a happy life.

    As for why the Holy Prophet Muhammad (saw) married her: All his wives were either old, widows and had accepted Islam later on in their lives. Hadrhat Aisha ra was among the few who was born in a righteous Muslim household. From her very birth, she was given the necessary training which ensured that she was very knowledgeable about Islamic practices. She also has a very sharp memory and was very intelligent. She outlived the Holy Prophet saw by 40 y and during that time provided wonderful guidance and advice to the Muslims.

    RED STAR; Atleast now, retract your baseless accusation that the Holy Prophet saw married a 9 y old and acted inappropriately. You were wrong. The brothers above have written so many times that Aisha was not likely to be 9 y old, but every time you keep insisting she was. Whatever I said is not new, the brothers have already mentioned this in their posts but you seem to be happy to ignore them.

    The Holy Prophet saw and Hadhrat Aisha ra led a happy life together. The Prophet saw spent his last few days with Hadhrat Aisha, with his other wives permission.

    Peace!

  60. Dear Red Star,

    The reason I asked you to confer with your colleagues was because I thought you might be one of the UCL group of atheists who have recently been arguing with some ahmadi muslims. I was hoping you could invite them to present all their arguments and objections here.

    Regarding your proposed “positive deluge of reasons”, here is my response:

    1. You have clearly decided that Islam is a wrong religion and you are seeking to prove it is a wrong religion. That’s fair enough, you’re entitled to your belief, but in that case this is not a conversation trying to explore the truth, this has turned into a debate. For me, personally, I do not think debates are spiritually healthy. However, I’ve continued with this debate thus far because initially I hoped to satisfy you, and then latterly I’ve hoped that perhaps some third party observers might benefit from this process.

    2. But now that it has turned into a debate, you have a responsibility to debate with me.

    3. Debate is not to just keep throwing out an endless list of criticisms. Even an unreasonable person of low intelligence could do that. Red Star, you have reason and intelligence, so I expect more from you. Debate requires you to interact with me, to argue against my arguments.

    4. Instead of arguing with my responses, you’ve ignored many of my responses and now you’ve written “some of [Red Star’s arguments] have been sort of dealt with”. Red Star, what is this? If you’re satisfied that I’ve dealt with your arguments, then formally acknowledge that your argument against Islam was unjustified. If you’re not satisfied, and you think I’ve only “sort of” dealt with your arguments, then explain why and justify your dissatisfaction rationally. You can’t have it both ways.

    5. We’re now on argument 34. Before you give me a deluge of further arguments, tell me if you entirely retract your previously 34 arguments against Islam? If not, then let’s deal with those 34 arguments comprehensively. I’ve made a nice list of your arguments and numbered them for you, this should make it easy for you. But I’m not going to continue wasting my time responding to your criticisms, if you just ignore my response and run on to another criticism. This is not a proper way to debate, Red Star.

    Peace,
    Moosa

  61. Dear Red Star,

    34. Red Star’s argument (continued): “Interesting points on Gandhi. I think all that serves to prove is that we are all human and that humans have flaws and make mistakes. What I can’t for the life of me understand is why you can’t apply this rather mundane fact to Muhammad?

    34. Moosa’s response (continued):

    34L. Red Star, I can’t apply this to Muhammad (pboh) because you haven’t given me a single valid instance of Muhammad (pboh) doing something morally wrong. I’ve clearly demonstrated how wrong you are on every criticism you’ve made so far. The fact that Gandhi made wrong decisions doesn’t somehow prove that Muhammad (pboh) made wrong decisions. To prove that Muhammad (pboh) made wrong decisions, you have to… show me that Muhammad (pboh) made wrong decisions.

    34. Red Star’s argument (continued): “None of these are ‘comparable’, they’re markedly BETTER:
    Cyrus the Great (Achaemenid Persian Empire), Hiawatha (Iroquios), Tecumseh (Shawnee), Red Cloud (Lakota), William Gladstone (UK), Hjalmar Branting (Sweden), Vladimir Lenin (RSFSR, USSR), Franklin Roosevelt (USA), Clement Attlee (UK), Fidel Castro (Cuba), Hugo Chavez (Venezuela)”

    34. Moosa’s response (continued):

    34m. Hold your horse, my friend. You only need to give me one example to prove your point, not seven examples. But of course, you need to do something further to prove your point. You can’t simply just list names, you have to demonstrate how they were better? I ask you to select any one of these people, the best one out of all of them (in your opinion), and then we can perform a comparison. I’m really looking forward to this.

    Peace,
    Moosa

  62. Dear Red Star,

    33. Red Star’s argument (continued): “I do, however, take exception to the notion that Muhammad was ‘indispensable’ or ‘inexpendable’ because he was a ‘prophet of God’. Surely the ‘almighty’ God could ‘reveal himself’ to anyone he liked and raise another prophet to do the same job, couldn’t he?”

    33. Moosa’s response (continued):

    33c. God can do anything, as you say. God can manifest Himself in a grapefruit or a banana, if He wishes. God can turn a turnip into a kangaroo also. But none of this would be wise or reasonable. The Qur’an makes the reasonable assertion that a written document alone cannot provide spiritual reformation. The reason is because people learn best from seeing a practical example. For instance, I studied medicine in medical school, but I only really learned medicine properly after working under the direction of talented physicians. Books can only teach you so much.

    We believe that the Qur’an is the Perfect Book, you know this because you were a muslim. Therefore of course, naturally it would require a perfect man to manifest a perfect message from God. Obviously, finding a perfect man isn’t as easy as finding a president or a king or a prime minister.

    33d. The other thing you don’t seem to understand, is that the messenger is not important in himself. He is important because he represents God. Similarly, why is it considered completely acceptable to kill or imprison an ambassador in international law? It is because the ambassador represents a nation, therefore you are effectively killing the nation (not in reality, but by implication). The reason why people have died for Muhammad (pboh) is because he represents God. Moreover, unlike previous messengers whose message has been quite limited in time and place, his message has been addressed eternally to the entire humankind. In my opinion, therefore, it is not contemptible to die for Muhammad (pboh). You think it heroic if a person dies for his lover, his nation, his children… but you think it is contemptible to die for the person who represents God… this is bizarre.

    Peace,
    Moosa

  63. “Can I ask you to please kindly confer with your atheist colleagues and bring here all their arguments against Islam? I am waiting for them very eagerly.”

    I don’t have any ‘atheist colleagues’. Everything I’ve been writing has been my own thoughts. Whether atheists would generally agree with what I’m saying is another matter. But the non-religous are not a monolithic secret society all plotting and scheming in dark corners to bring you down, despite what you might think 😉

    If you want a list of arguments against Islam, I’m happy to present them to you. I’ve already presented 10 against the Qur’an and 10 against the Prophet (some of which have been sort of dealt with), but when I get the chance I’ll chuck out a positive deluge of reasons why I’m not a Muslim and why any reasonable, rational person wouldn’t want to be either.

  64. 33: Ok, I’ll let you have that one. You have presented me examples I was unaware of and I retract my erroneous assertion.

    I do, however, take exception to the notion that Muhammad was ‘indispensable’ or ‘inexpendable’ because he was a ‘prophet of God’. Surely the ‘almighty’ God could ‘reveal himself’ to anyone he liked and raise another prophet to do the same job, couldn’t he?

    Moreover, it doesn’t change the fact that people are still willing to DIE for and KILL in the name of this man, and that they see it as honourable and noble to devote themselves more to this long-dead individual than they do to their own families, friends and humanity as a whole.

    That is morally contemptible.

    34: Interesting points on Gandhi. I think all that serves to prove is that we are all human and that humans have flaws and make mistakes. What I can’t for the life of me understand is why you can’t apply this rather mundane fact to Muhammad?

    Gandhi isn’t my ‘hero’ (the word hero means ‘demi-god’, which I don’t believe in). This is why I feel no need to ’emulate’ him, unlike Muslims, who feel that Muhammad is the ‘perfect’ man and whose example it is mandatory to follow.

    Still, one would probably do better on ’emulating’ Gandhi than Muhammad…

    “Try again. I’ll give you another shot. Any other leader who you think is comparable to Muhammad (pboh)?”

    None of these are ‘comparable’, they’re markedly BETTER:

    Cyrus the Great (Achaemenid Persian Empire), Hiawatha (Iroquios), Tecumseh (Shawnee), Red Cloud (Lakota), William Gladstone (UK), Hjalmar Branting (Sweden), Vladimir Lenin (RSFSR, USSR), Franklin Roosevelt (USA), Clement Attlee (UK), Fidel Castro (Cuba), Hugo Chavez (Venezuela)

    This list is not exhaustive. If you would like more, just say and I’ll be happy to provide you with them!

  65. Dear Red Star,

    Can I ask you to please kindly confer with your atheist colleagues and bring here all their arguments against Islam? I am waiting for them very eagerly.

    But first, let us deal fully and completely with your questions 33 and 34 please. This is reciprocity. I have done you the honour of responding to all your questions, now you also please reciprocate by either presenting further arguments or acknowledging the integrity and justice of Muhammad (pboh).

    Peace,
    Moosa

  66. Dear Red Star,

    You’re very helpfully presenting all the major criticisms of Muhammad (pboh), which gives me the opportunity to present refutations of those criticisms. May God enable you to continue in this endeavour. Let’s examine your latest effort:

    34. Red Star’s argument (continued): “Mahatma Gandhi. And he didn’t kill anybody or marry a nine-year old girl.”

    34. Moosa’s response (continued):

    34d. Note: you’ve ignored most of my arguments 33a to 34c, and tried to sidestep them by focusing on my challenge in 34b to give another example like Muhammad (pboh). But even in this focused reply, you’ve failed by giving the wholly inadequate example of Mahatma Gandhi.

    34e. Regarding Gandhi, I think Peace4everynation made a very good point. Your example Gandhi falls flat on the very first condition: he wasn’t the ruler of a country. This is important because one of the great qualities of Muhammad (pboh) was that in the end he ruled Arabia, and yet he continued to exhibit gentleness and humility. It’s easy for a man with no physical power to be gentle. The impressive thing is when a man who has great power acts gently.

    34f. Interestingly, the man you proposed as a leader, himself praised Muhammad (pboh) very highly. Gandhi wrote: “I wanted to know the best of one who holds today’s undisputed sway over the hearts of millions of mankind. I became more than convinced that it was not the sword that won a place for Islam in those days in the scheme of life. It was the rigid simplicity, the utter self-effacement of the Prophet, the scrupulous regard for his pledges, his intense devotion to this friends and followers, his intrepidity, his fearlessness, his absolute trust in God and in his own mission. These and not the sword carried everything before them and surmounted every obstacle. When I closed the 2nd volume (of the Prophet’s biography), I was sorry there was not more for me to read of the great life.”

    34g. Furthermore, although Gandhi no doubt demonstrated certain high moral qualities, he also failed to act morally in important ways. For instance, he is documented as making racist statements against the blacks in Africa. Muhammad (pboh), on the contrary, firmly established racial equality 1400 years ago, to an extent that didn’t happen in the USA until well into the 20th century. Malcolm X, for example, remarked how amazed he felt when he first did the Hajj to Makkah, that for the first time in his life he didn’t feel like he was being treated differently because he was black.

    34h. Regarding Gandhi never killing anybody, he was fortunate enough to live in a time and place where nonviolent resistance was an effective political strategy. This doesn’t mean that it’s always best to be nonviolent. In fact, Gandhi’s nonviolent stance came under heavy criticism internationally when he proposed that British people should have invited Nazi Germans into their homes and the jews should have submitted happily to the holocaust. If Gandhi had been in charge of the British government at that time, then you would today be living in a Nazi United Kingdom where millions of jews, blacks, disabled people and gypsies would have been eradicated. Is this better than Muhammad (pboh)?

    34i. Regarding marrying 9 year old girls, I think I’ve said several times that there’s no firm evidence that Muhammad (pboh) married Aysha when she was aged 9. So until you prove she was aged 9, I think it’s worthless to make an argument against Muhammad (pboh) which is based on an unproven hypothesis. Furthermore, you haven’t responded logically to most of my replies about the marriage of Muhammad (pboh) with Aysha, but instead you’re just surreptitiously trying to slip in the “9 year old” allegation here again. I’m afraid I can’t let you get away with that. In case you hadn’t noticed, I’m dissecting every single argument you’re putting forward, I’m ignoring nothing, and I’m letting nothing pass. Please go back to my responses to your question 28 and argue with me there, before bringing out this “9 year old girl” argument again.

    34j. The remarkable thing about the critics of Islam is that they’re so overcome by animosity for Islam that they focus on all the imagined negatives in Muhammad (pboh) and yet they ignore all the potential negatives in other leaders. Read up about Gandhi’s life in wikipedia: “In the 1940s, in his mid-seventies, he [Gandhi] brought his grandniece Manubehn to sleep naked in his bed as part of a spiritual experiment…”. What do you think of this, Red Star? You asked if our Khalifas would marry a 9 year old girl. Now I’m asking you: would you emulate your hero Gandhi?

    34k. Try again. I’ll give you another shot. Any other leader who you think is comparable to Muhammad (pboh)?

    Please don’t forget to address my arguments in 33a, 33b, 34a and 34c. I repeat: I’m not going to continue with this discussion until we’ve thrashed out 33 and 34.

    Peace,
    Moosa

  67. Could you show any reference from a credible historical source showing that Mahatma Gandhi ruled India? From when to when was he the ruler with power in his hand as the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) had?

  68. “Can you give me the example of any other person in human history who ruled Arabia or any country, and lived his life in the way I’ve described above?”

    Mahatma Gandhi. And he didn’t kill anybody or marry a nine-year old girl.

  69. Dear Brother Moosa, that was very well put. You have moved me, and I am sure countless others, to love and cherish the Holy Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) even more. May peace and thousands of blessings of Allah be upon the Prophet who sacrificed so much so we could be relieved of our many ills and sufferings. Ameen Allahumma Ameen.

  70. Dear Red Star,

    RE: THE INTEGRITY OF MUHAMMAD (PBOH)

    I will deal here with the next two very fundamental questions you have raised, and then I think we need to resolve these questions before we proceed further, for reasons I give at the end of this post.

    33. Red Star’s argument: “Muhammad allowed others to sacrifice themselves for him (I believe the ‘handoftalha’ reference is pertinent here) but provides no example of where he was willing to sacrifice himself for others.”

    33. Moosa’s response: You know about the incident of the hand of Talha. That’s interesting. What’s your religious background? (It’s intriguing how you don’t disclose your own beliefs).

    33a. There are a multitude of examples of Muhammad (pboh) sacrificing himself for others. During the time of fierce persecution in Makkah, he sent most of his companions to escape to Madina and Abyssinia, while he himself remained in Makkah and endured daily persecution there. He participated in all the major battles of early Islam, including the Battle of Uhud where the muslims thought he had been killed because he was in the midst of all the furore of fighting. There is an incident in Bukhari where the muslims in Madina heard a terrifying commotion from outside the town in the middle of the night, and all gathered to try to decide how to investigate. Eventually, they saw Muhammad (pboh) ride into Madina on his horse, and he told them not to worry, he had gone himself to investigate, and there was no danger. He certainly displayed far more incidents of bravery and self-sacrifice than Christopher Hitchens or Richard Dawkins of any of the atheist leaders, or indeed any existing political leader today.

    33b. Having said that, Muhammad (pboh) was the leader of the muslims and the communicator of God’s revelations. If Muhammad (pboh) had died, then Islam would have died. It is true that Talha (may Allah be pleased with him and elevate his station in heaven and may his hand shine forth like the blazing sun on the horizon of paradise) sacrificed his hand by protecting the face of Muhammad (pboh) from arrows during battle. In the same way, soldiers from the United States and United Kingdom are expected to throw themselves in the line of fire if the US President of the UK Prime Minister are attacked, and indeed Hollywood has made movies in praise of the soldiers who do this. So if even secular societies are agreed on the fact that the life of the US President must be protected at all costs, then please inform me what is the logic of the objection you raise? In fact the US President is relatively expendable, he can be replaced quite easily, whereas a prophet of God cannot be replaced by humans as he is the communicator of revelations.

    34. Red Star’s argument: “Muhammad’s religion teaches one rule for him and another for his followers, and yet requires his followers to follow his example – a conundrum if ever there was one.”

    34a. Red Star, it’s quite worrying to witness your methodology. Your language is polite and reasoned, but the direction of your arguments is beginning to look malicious. You know of the incident of Talha’s hand, so you obviously have made a study of the biography of Muhammad (pboh). Then do you acknowledge that Muhammad (pboh) used to eat only a few dates daily and starved for many years during the persecution when he was banished outside Makkah to live in the wilderness and eat root vegetables in the desert for several years with his first wife Khadija? Do you acknowledge that Muhammad (pboh) prescribed five daily prayers for the muslims but himself used to stand a third of the night in prayer? Do you acknowledge that (even while he was the leader of the muslims), he used to clean his house and sweep his floor himself? Do you acknowledge that he tied rocks to his abdomen to try to quell the hunger he experienced during these times? Do you accept that he was sent gifts from kings and gave these gifts to the people? Do you acknowledge that he would give everything in charity to other muslims, and retain nothing for himself? Do you acknowledge that he died as the king of Arabia but when he died he possessed nothing except a rough mat and the clothes he wore?

    34b. Can you give me the example of any other person in human history who ruled Arabia or any country, and lived his life in the way I’ve described above?

    34c. Yes there was one rule for Muhammad (pboh) and another rule for his followers. The rule for Muhammad (pboh) was that he had to pray more than his followers, eat less, give more in charity, die with no property, leave no inheritance to his children, forgive the disbelievers on numerous occasions when other muslims were telling him to execute the disbelievers because of their crimes and atrocities. Yes there was a different rule for Muhammad (pboh) and his followers, because his followers did not have the spiritual capacity to do what he did.

    Red Star, I think I’ll stop here, because here you’re actually attacking the integrity and justice of Muhammad (pboh) and this is a very fundamental point where we must stop. If you’re correct in these last two arguments 33 and 34, then Muhammad (pboh) has no integrity, let alone a claim to spiritual perfection and prophethood. Therefore I won’t go further until we thrash these two questions out.

    Peace,
    Moosa

  71. Dear Red Star,

    32. Red Star’s argument: “Muhammad taught it was acceptable to take female prisoners of war and then marry them.”

    32. Moosa’s response:

    32a. I’ve already spoken many times of the atrocities committed against the muslims during the lifetime of Muhammad (pboh). In general, the normal contemporary penalty would have been death, but in most cases the muslims did not kill their opponents after battle. This was more civilised than the practise of many disbelievers, but it posed particular problems.

    32b. The first problem was that there was no infrastructure or administration capable of maintaining a secure prisoner-of-war camp in 7th century Arabia. Therefore Islam coped with this problem by individual muslims keeping the prisoners-of-war as slaves, thereby ensuring that they could not gather to attack the muslims again . However, this wasn’t slavery in the normal sense of the word. Muhammad (pboh) instructed muslims that they had to feed and clothe their slaves in the same way that they themselves were fed and clothed. In some cases, we even hear reports of muslims walking while their “slave” rode on a horse beside them.

    32c. The second problem was that these prisoners-of-war lived in the households of muslims. As I said, there was no infrastructure for maintaning a secure camp or prison. In this environment, female prisoners-of-war posed particular problems, especially if their husbands had been killed or not captured. In these circumstances, muslims were encouraged to marry them, to reduce the risk of sexual relationships outside of marriage.

    32d. I am completely unqualified to give authoritative commentary of the Qur’an, but my personal understanding is that the Qur’an says “And forbidden to you are married women, except such as your right hands possess… ” [Qur’an 4.25] and also “And whoso of you cannot afford to marry free, believing women, let him marry what your right hands possess, namely, your believing handmaids….”[Quran 4.26]. In other words, it does permit muslims to marry married women who are captured after a battle, but those women must be believing women. Many of the early converts to Islam were people who were socially disadvantages, for instance slaves and women. They converted because Islam gave them rights which they never had before. In some cases, the women converted but their husbands did not convert. In this specific situation, Islam gave permission to muslim men to marry these women. I can’t myself see any evidence in the Qur’an that Islam gives the muslims the permission to marry non-believers, in fact it discourages it.

    Peace,
    Moosa

  72. “I may have been mistaken regarding your own belief. I thought I read somewhere you denied that you’re an atheist, but I just read some other posts in another thread (with Bill Yeager) where you seem to argue that God does not exist”

    I don’t call myself an ‘atheist’, but I certainly don’t beleive in a THEISTIC god, so for the purposes of our discussion I guess you’d better take me as one!

    I said earlier if I had to ‘label myself’ (for ‘relgious’ terms) I’d say I was in between an agnostic (i.e. we can’t really know about ‘God’) and a deist (I’m open to the possibilty of a DEISTIC god – I would even go so far as to say that the existence of a deistic god would be reasonable and logical; although I would stress there is no evidence and there may never be – hence the agnosticism).

  73. @ REDSTAR

    The baseless allegation that Prophet Muhammad (sa) ordered the massacre of 627 Jews is nothing more than a fable and without historical merit.

    But don’t take my word for it, see the argument that cites authentic sources and thoroughly dismantles every critics argument: http://www.scribd.com/doc/25384328/Muhammad-and-the-Jews-a-Re-Examination-by-Barakat-Ahmad

    Yes, books have been written repudiating this baseless allegation. Don’t believe the nonsense hype.

  74. Red Star please give up your obsession with age of 9 and read this comment with an open mind. Read on and in the words of Sir Francis Bacon, “Read not to contradict … but to weigh and consider.”

    The Holy Quran is a dynamic book, if we had only one fixed interpretation of the text we will all have to live in the deserts of seventh century Arabia, but that is clearly not the situation.

    Sir Zafrulla Khan wrote about the Holy Quran:

    “The world is dynamic and so is the Quran. Indeed, so dynamic is the Quran that it has always been found to keep ahead of the world and never to lag behind it. However fast the pace at which the pattern of human life may change and progress, Quran always yields, and will go on yielding, the needed guidance in advance. This has now been demonstrated through more than thirteen centuries, and that is a guarantee that it will continue to be demonstrated through the ages.” (Islam: Its Meaning for the Modern Man)

    If you read the verse, I mentioned before in this context, which Khan provides us, the whole of the mystery is solved regarding marriageable age:

    ‘And assess the orphans until they attain puberty that is the age of marriage; then, if you find sound judgment in them, release their property to them.’ (Al Qur’an 4:7)

    I have improved translation, but if you knew Arabic or know someone, who knows Arabic, you can double check. Now, this Quranic verse is talking about universal principles and no culture or era can escape it. You have to biologically define puberty, culturally decide marriagable age and maturity and whatever an era decides it will be right for it.

    Red Star in your desire to uphold Islamophobia, you cannot have a rigid definition of puberty or maturity. Can you? Additionally, each culture has to decide when the girls can start having pre-marital or marital sex, don’t they? So, let us talk about universal issues that every culture and family has to deal with rather than this obsession with age of 9. I believe Ayesha was 16 years old when she got married. My guess is as good as yours. Isn’t it?

  75. Dear Red Star,

    I may have been mistaken regarding your own belief. I thought I read somewhere you denied that you’re an atheist, but I just read some other posts in another thread (with Bill Yeager) where you seem to argue that God does not exist. It would be helpful if you formally acknowledge your own belief, because this facilitiates interaction (ie I would give different arguments to a Wicca pagan from the arguments I’d give to a Zionist ashkenazi from the arguments I’d give to an atheist).

    In any case, my point stands that your argument isn’t specific to Muhammad (pboh) but in fact it’s one of the common arguments against God, and this argument has been explored at length by theologians and philosophers since centuries, for instance the question “why did God create Satan?”. I would suggest you read some of the multitude of books that explore this question, because it’s not a small philosophical debate which we can settle here in a few posts, it’s a debate which has raged between great atheist and theist philosophers since a long time ago.

    Peace,
    Moosa

  76. Dear Red Star,

    RE: THE SINGLE INCIDENT OF STONING THE ADULTERER TO DEATH

    31. Red Star’s argument (continued): “So both God and Muhammad thought stoning to death was an appropriate punishment, and that there was nothing wrong with it? Why did the all-knowing God, who later told Muhammad that there was a different punishment, allow this to happen? Why was the appropriate verse not revealed at this time to prevent this?
    As for not condemning acts until God told him too, that’s just insane. So had it not been revealed, Muhammad wouldn’t have condemned an act of rape happening in front of him?
    Oh…wait…rape isn’t even mentioned the ‘perfect book’, is it? So I guess both God and Muhammad think that’s ok too…along with burying people to their necks and hurling rocks at their heads.”

    31 Moosa’s response (continued):

    31a. Regarding why the all-knowing God allowed this and why the appropriate verse was not revealed at this time to prevent this, your question is one of the great philosophical questions regarding God. I think you wrote here that you’re not an atheist. This means you believe in God, right? Well if you believe in God, then why does God allow world wars which killed 100 million people, why does He allow famines and earthquakes, why did He allow the Bubonic plague which killed something like a third of the world’s population? In fact, if we’re going to think in this way, then why did God permit evil? Why did God create Satan? You’re getting very excited that Muhammad (pboh)’s God allowed one person to be stoned to death, but your own God has allowed much more death and destruction than that. Presumably, as a non-atheist, you believe that human suffering is permitted by God in His wisdom because suffering and injustice and indeed evil have some important role to play in human spiritual development, and that God compensates in heaven those people who suffered some sort of injustice in this world. So if your God has allowed 100s of millions of innocent people to suffer in this world, what is the logic of your objection against God allowing one more person to suffer by being stoned to death? In any case, your argument isn’t an argument which can fairly be applied against Muhammad (pboh) to the exclusion of other religious leaders. If your argument is allowed, then it is an argument against the very concept of God.

    31b. This wasn’t an example of Muhammad (pboh) not condemning an act until God told him to. This was an example of the general monotheist consensus of Jewish scholars at the time being that adultery was punishable by death. In other words, there wasn’t a religious vacuum here where Muhammad (pboh) could insert his own ideas of what was right and wrong. There was a clear guidance in the Jewish scriptures, which Muhammad (pboh) felt he could not ignore unless God specifically guided him otherwise. If you want to blame somebody, blame the Jewish religion, rather than focusing all your acrimony against Muhammad (pboh).

    31c. You’re correct that rape isn’t specifically mentioned in the ‘perfect book’. Not each and every imaginable crime is mentioned in the Qur’an because it’s primary function is to act as a spiritual guidance for the soul, and it only has a secondary role as a legislative constitution or a scientific manual or a historical document. However, the Qur’an does give general principles of law and order, from which inferences can be drawn regarding specific crimes. For instance, gentleness and compassion are encouraged in the Qur’an, violence and aggression (except in self-defence) are forbidden, and rape is an act of aggression, therefore I believe that the Qur’an does forbid rape.

    Peace,
    Moosa

  77. Dear Red Star,

    RE: MUHAMMAD (PBOH) DIDN’T RESPECT THE RIGHTS OF OTHERS TO THEIR RELIGION

    30. Red Star’s argument: “Muhammad didn’t respect the rights of others to their religion (even desecrating their idols and holy places).”

    Nonsense explanation [re: explanation from Moosa]. According to this, the Jews have every right to demolish the Dome of the Rock and the Al-Aqsa mosque which is situated on their Temple Mount. Indeed, according to this logic, the Crusades were entirely justified too.
    Also, the Hindu destruction of the Babri Mosque in Ayodha (built over a Hindu holy site) was also justified according to this logic.

    30. Moosa’s response (continued):

    I’m absolutely certain that my explanation didn’t permit the demolition of the Dome of the Rock or the Crusades. You either didn’t read my explanation or else you didn’t understand it correctly. I can’t locate that explanation right now (I think it was in another discussion), so I’ll try to reproduce it here:

    30a. Muhammad (pboh) brought the following general and permanent guidance in the Qur’an regarding other religions:

    “And revile not those whom they call upon beside Allah, lest they, out of spite, revile Allah in their ignorance. Thus unto every people have We caused their doing to seem fair. Then unto their Lord is their return; and He will inform them of what they used to do.” [Qur’an 6.109]

    “Those who have been driven out from their homes unjustly only because they said, ‘Our Lord is Allah’ — And if Allah did not repel some men by means of others, there would surely have been pulled down cloisters and churches and synagogues and mosques, wherein the name of Allah is oft commemorated. And Allah will surely help one who helps Him. Allah is indeed Powerful, Mighty.” [Qur’an 22.41]

    These verses are uniquely tolerant and inclusive and equitable. You won’t find their like in any other religion. Red Star, you say you’re not atheist. I’m not sure what is your religious belief, but I do challenge you: whatever your religion, bring us something similar from your own scripture.

    30b. The destruction of the idols in Makkah was not the general behaviour or teaching of Muhammad (pboh), it was a specific incident. The fact that you’re focusing on this specific incident and ignoring the general teaching of tolerance for other religions and even disbelievers in the Qu’ran… suggests that you’re trying to find any opportunity to criticise Islam, rather than trying to make an honest evaluation of Islam.

    30c. The destruction of the idols in Makkah was after the conquest of Makkah. The disbelievers had murdered and tortured and mutilated countless muslims and repeatedly attacked Madina over a period of many years. The reason for the persecution of muslims by the disbelievers… was that the disbelievers wished to uphold their idol-based society against the new religion of Islam. In this circumstance, Muhammad (pboh) had full right and justification to kill all the disbelievers who had murdered muslims over the years. However, he chose to forgive them. If you were honestly evaluating Muhammad (pboh), you would marvel that he forgave them, particularly with the background of widescale massacre which was often practised by contemporary Roman and Persian conquerors. But instead of marvelling at his forgiveness of the disbelievers, you start to criticise him for breaking their idols! This is a peculiar way of thinking, Red Star.

    30d. For me, the beauty of Muhammad (pboh)’s lesson to the disbelievers was as follows: “I have full justification in this circumstance to punish you all physically, to execute many of you for your crimes. However, instead of destroying you, I will destroy the idols for which you persecuted me and the muslims, because in this specific circumstance it was these idols which motivated you to murder and torture and mutilate so many innocent muslim women and men.”

    30e. Remember that this was a very exceptional specific circumstance. The general guidance for the muslims on how to behave with other religions is in the verses of the Qur’an quoted above.

    30f. Of course, this specific circumstance does not apply to the Babri Mosque, the Al-Aqsa Mosque, the Crusades, etc, it also does not apply to the Taliban destruction of the ancient Buddha statues a few years ago, which was a complete distortion of Islam and a disobedience to God’s teaching in the Qur’an. The Babri Mosque incident was not in response to muslims torturing, persecuting and mutilating hindus simply because of their beliefs, therefore it’s entirely inappropriate to draw a parallel.

    Peace,
    Moosa

  78. Dear Red Star,

    RE: THE INCIDENT OF THE BANU QURAYZA

    29. Red Star’s argument: “The beheading of all of the men of the Banu Qurayza tribe of Jews is 627 by the order of Muhammad, the ‘mercy for all mankind’.”

    29. Moosa’s response:

    29a. There are many different conflicting reports of what happened in this incident, and widely different interpretations amongst different muslim and orientalist scholars. I can only give you my interepretation, which I believe is the Ahmadi interpretation, but you would have to confirm this with an Ahmadi scholar.

    29b. The incident of Banu Qurayza happened at a time when the muslims of Madina were being attacked regularly by the non-believers of Makkah. The Banu Qurayza tribe had an agreement with the muslims to fight together to repel the non-believers. In other words, there was a state of war. Furthermore, the annihilation of the muslims was threatened by the invading army.

    29c. In this critical time, the Banu Qurayza, instead of fighting alongside the muslims, actually entered into negotiations with the non-believers. The consequences of this were potentially devastating: it is clear that the objective of the non-believers was to kill Muhammad (pboh) and probably all the muslims.

    29d. The muslims then repelled the non-believers, and turned to siege the Banu Qurayza, who surrendered after about a month. The question was: what should be their punishment?

    29e. Muhammad (pboh) then gave a choice to the Banu Qurayza: either he would decide their punishment, or Sa’d ibn Muadh. The Banu Qurayza decided that they would prefer the judgment of Sa’d ibn Muadh, because they feared that Muhammad (pboh) would seek revenge and Sa’d ibn Muadh was from a tribe which had a long history of friendly relations and alliance with the Banu Qurayza. Sa’d ibn Muadh said he would give his judgment only if all parties promised to be bound by it. All parties agreed (including Muhammad (pboh)). Sa’d ibn Muadh then ordered that all the adult males of the Banu Qurayza should be executed.

    29f. The Banu Qurayza had committed an act of collective treason during a state of war. For instance, the famous orientalist scholar Watt, who was opposed to Islam, admitted that the Banu Qurayza were guilty of treason. Even in modern democratic nations of the 20th century, treason is punishable by death, because treason threatens the very existence of a nation and all its inhabitants.

    29g. The Banu Qurayza knew that by all contemporary standards of justice, they deserved execution. Having said this, it was the great error of the Banu Qurayza that they underestimated the mercy of Muhammad (pboh) and overestimated the friendliness of Sa’d ibn Muadh. I personally believe that if they had accepted the judgment of Muhammad (pboh), he would not have ordered their execution, because his entire life story was characterised by acts of incredible forgiveness, such as his treatment of the non-believers when he conquered Makkah.

    29h. Previously, other tribes had committed treason against the muslims before this. Banu Qaynuqa had broken a peace treaty with the muslims, and Banu Nadir had plotted against his life during the Battle of Uhud. In both these cases, the punishment was prescribed by Muhammad (pboh), and in both these cases he expelled the tribes from Madina, he didn’t order their execution, even though some of his companions urged their execution. This also demonstrates that Muhammad (pboh) had a track record of forgiveness, and he would likely have forgiven the Banu Qurayza if they had put their trust in his judgment.

    29i. In conclusion, the response to your argument is: (A) the Banu Qurayza committed treason and threatened the annihilation of the muslims by their actions, and the normal punishment for treason even in the 20th century was death, (B) Muhammad (pboh) didn’t pass the sentence of execution, this was passed by Sa’d bin Muadh.

    Peace,
    Moosa

  79. Dear Red Star

    RE: THE MARRIAGE OF MUHAMMAD (PBOH) TO AYSHA

    28. Red Star’s argument (continued): “Actually, yes we can because Islam claims Muhammad is the ‘perfect man’ and that he is an example for all people of all times. So, would you follow his example and marry a 9 year old? Just because we find 9 year olds forced to support their families and live rough lives, doesn’t make it RIGHT. Just like Mo marrying a 9-year old because it was ‘ok at the time’ doesn’t make it right. Would it be ok for one of your Khalifas to marry a nine-year old?…
    That’s beside the point. The point is he married a 9-year old. And that’s just not what the ‘perfect example for all peoples, all times’ should be doing…is it?
    Moreover, the usual ‘political alliance’ and ‘mercy’ reasons given for Muhammad’s numerous marriages doesn’t apply to Aysha, the daughter of his best friend. Precisely what reason did he have to marry this little girl???”

    28. Moosa’s response (continued):

    28d. Red Star, your logic is not logical. Just because Muhammad (pboh) was “the perfect man” does not mean our Khalifas or any of us are obliged to follow his example in every way, regardless of the context of the social norms in which we exist today. For instance, Muhammad (pboh) rode a camel, he lived in the desert, he fought with a sword, he ate mostly a few dates daily, he spoke in arabic, he didn’t learn how to read or write. It does not follow that because I believe he was “the perfect man”, I also have to ride a camel, live in the desert, eat only dates, etc etc.

    28e. Regarding the specific question of the age difference between Aysha and Muhammad (pboh), firstly I am not even sure that Aysha was aged 9 at the time of her marriage to Muhammad (pboh). We are talking about a hypothetical situation here. The historical data regarding her age doesn’t quite match up, she could have been anywhere between 9 and 18, depending on your sources. The only firm fact which we know is that Aysha was an adolescent and Muhammad (pboh) was a middle-aged man at the time of their marriage. You may find this objectionable. I will reply to that objection in 28g to 28i below.

    28f. Regarding the other marriages being political, this is not the case. One of his wives, as I remember, was an aged widow who nobody else wished to marry, so Muhammad (pboh) married her for no political benefit, perhaps to give a gentle lesson to those muslims who thought they were too good to marry her. With regard to Aisha, the marriage could indeed be justified as political to some extent, in the sense that she was the daughter of his closest companion and his first successor Abu Bakr. He was also bound by marriage relations to Umar, Uthman and Ali (the subsequent successors). But I don’t personally see his marriage to Aisha as political.

    28g. Regarding your question “why did he have to marry this little girl “, the fact that you can’t answer that question reveals more about your psyche than anything else. The problem is that most people in our world today are so corrupt that they assume corruption as the motivation of others, they see corruption even in a pure-hearted person because they have become so accustomed to corruption.

    Here’s my answer why I personally believe Muhammad (pboh) married Aysha. The first consideration of Muhammad (pboh) was always how he could preserve and ensure the success of God’s message. He married elderly ladies, widows, a jew and a christian slave, to teach muslims that effectively all humans are equal, and nobody should look down on, for instance, widows or jews. These marriages were therefore for the purpose of God’s message. He certainly didn’t marry elderly widows for sexual pleasure, did he? With regard to Aisha, my personal feeling is that he saw her growing up under the carae of her father (who was also his closest companion), he recognised the spark of intelligence and courage in her, he realised she was a spiritual and intellectual genius who had a formidable memory, and he had the foresightedness to envision that if he married her, then she would have access to his personality and his character and his spirituality in a way that no male companion could have, and she could then convey this to the future muslims in times to come. This is exactly what happened. Aysha lived for many decades after Muhammad (pboh), and she provided leadership and guidance to the muslims, and much of what we know about him is preserved only by her reports.

    28h. The following paragraph is not something I’ve learned from any Ahmadi scholar, but it’s purely my personal opinion: Regarding whether the perfect man can marry a 9 year old, firstly this is a hypothetical question, but of course in general the behaviour of “the perfect man” is context-dependent. For instance, if you put “the perfect man” in a situation where an aggressive tyrant is attacking weak innocent people, then he would have to fight and he would have to teach his community to fight. But if you put that same man in a peaceful ordered society, then in that circumstance a perfect man would not fight. Therefore, morality has a certain flexibility. Today it’s a crime for a man to have a relationship with a 15 year old girl but it’s a foolish argument to say that 1400 years ago, a man should not have relations with a woman aged under 16. Even 600 years later, in the year 1275 the famous English jurist Sir Edward Coke ruled that the age of marriage was 12 in England.

    28i. This is also my personal opinion: Morality is of course not entirely flexible, it has limited flexibility. For instance, morality is bound by biology, physics, etc, it cannot operate outside of the objective laws of nature. What I mean by this is, if a woman has not attained puberty, then I believe it is objectively immoral to have sexual relations with her in any century or in any location or in any society, because physiologically and scientifically she is not ready for sexual relations. However, if biologically she is ready, if nature has given her the faculty to have sexual relations and bear children, then the only question which remains is whether she is psychologically ready, and of course this is flexible according to time, culture, and personal experience. Conceivably, therefore, it may hypothetically be possible for a 9 year old to have been ready for marriage in 7th century Arabia (though we have no firm evidence that Aysha was aged 9 at the time of her marriage to Muhammad (pboh)).

    Peace,
    Moosa

  80. Dear Red Star,

    Many thanks for your appreciation of the time I’ve taken responding to your arguments. I hope that my replies are helpful to you, and to others. The important thing to remember in this type of “debate” is to try our best to give precedence to the truth over our own egos. This is very very difficult. I myself cannot say I have complete command over my ego.

    Peace,
    Moosa

  81. “The Holy Quran is precisely preserved and it lays down the criteria of marriage as puberty”

    Some girls reach puberty very early – so Aysha may well have been 9. That still DOESN’T MAKE IT RIGHT!

    See it’s all about POWER and it’s abuse. A revered religious figure, an ADULT MALE, chooses to marry a 9-year old girl. The girl is the daughter of the figure’s most devoted follower. He (the father) is custodian of her. Both of these ADULT MEN agree that the figure should marry the little girl.

    This DOESN’T CONCERN YOU???!!!

    Anyway, the Qur’an says “the age of marriage”, which even one of your own (peace4everynation) has explained in his point 28a was as young as 9 during that time and in that place. There is no reason to believe that ‘marrigeable age’ in the Qur’an means something reasonable like 16 or 18.

    Isn’t there also a hadith in which Muhammad encourages girls to be married off ‘as young as possible’???

    Plus I’m still waiting for a REASON why Muhammad married Aysha – like I said, the usual ‘she was a poor widow’ or ‘it was necessary to make an alliance to stop bloodshed’ excuse can’t be used in this case…

    “..but, they should at least acknowledge that if the Prophet was not following the Quran, the Muslims would have been going apostate and calling him on the issues.”

    Perhaps the fact that they didn’t only serves to prove your interpretation of the Qur’an wasn’t shared by them; and that the Qur’an does indeed permit adult men to marry little girls (using the term ‘mature’ for one who has entered the age of puberty is like putting a 10-year old in charge of a country because he/she is wearing a suit…).

    “This is like the President cannot go against the constitution in USA or would have to face impeachment.”

    Problem with your analogy is, US Presidents ride roughshod over the Constitution all the time.

  82. The Christian apologists try to make a big deal out of Hadhrat Ayesha’s age as they do not have anything better to support the imploding structure of Christianity, when it is genuinely compared with Islam.

    The main thing to realize is that there was no National Health Service, Medicare or Medicaid in the seventh century Arabia! Children were born in homes and there were no birth certificates. Very few people were literate and there were no accurate records. So, it is hard to precisely know the age of Ayesha and Christian obsession with it is a Freudian slip and is very revealing of their vulnerability in removing the discussion away from the basics and fundamentals of Islam.

    What is much more fundamental and authentic is the teaching of the Holy Quran about the age of marriage. These instructions are in the fourth chapter of the holy scripture. The Holy Quran is precisely preserved and it lays down the criteria of marriage as puberty and some degree of maturity. It says:

    ‘And assess the orphans until they attain the age of marriage; then, if you find sound
    judgment in them, release their property to them.’ (Al Qur’an 4:7)

    Hadhrat Ayesha, when asked to describe the Prophet’s character, answered that his
    character was the Quran (Abu Dawud). What he did was what the Qur’an taught; what the Quran taught was nothing else than what he did. Thus, the Holy Prophet could not have married a little immature child as it is against the teachings of the Holy Quran. One would hope that Christians can believe this Hadith also, but, they should at least acknowledge that if the Prophet was not following the Quran, the Muslims would have been going apostate and calling him on the issues. This is like the President cannot go against the constitution in USA or would have to face impeachment.

  83. @ REDSTAR

    I have to say, I’m enjoying the discussion between you and the Muslims on this forum.

    Whether you agree with the points brought up or not is of course your choice. But I think you would agree, that this type of a frank and open dialogue is far more productive than silly cartoons and name calling.

    If more critics of Islam were as willing to engage in open and civilized discussion — like you are demonstrating — I suspect many of the misunderstandings of Islam and Muslims (and Atheists) would dissipate.

    God bless you for your sincerity (even if you don’t believe in Him:) )

  84. “28. Red Star’s argument: “Muhammad married a nine-year old.”

    28. Moosa’s response:

    28a. Firstly, you cannot judge a 7th century arab bedouin society by the norms of 21st century europe. For instance, today in the UK most children are not allowed to work and remain in compulsory education until age 16, often they then go to university, they don’t work or take any responsibility till age 21. But even today, go to Afghanistan and you’ll find children (male and female) who are aged 9 and supporting their entire families. A 9 year old in 7th century Arabia is not equivalent to a 9 year old in 21st century UK. In particular, Aysha was an incredibly talented and intelligent and precocious individual, and taught Islam to many of the early companions of Muhammad (pboh). Intellectually and socially, I’m sure she was more mature aged 9 than many middle-aged women today.”

    Actually, yes we can because Islam claims Muhammad is the ‘perfect man’ and that he is an example for all people of all times. So, would you follow his example and marry a 9 year old? Just because we find 9 year olds forced to support their families and live rough lives, doesn’t make it RIGHT. Just like Mo marrying a 9-year old because it was ‘ok at the time’ doesn’t make it right. Would it be ok for one of your Khalifas to marry a nine-year old?

    “28b. There is no consensus regarding the age of Aysha at the time of her marriage to Muhammad (pboh). There are hadeeths which give her age as 9. However, Ibn Jarir Tabari (a highly eminent early historian of Islam) wrote that Aysha was born before the beginning of Islam, and Muhammad (pboh) betrothed her 3 years after the death of his first wife Khadija in the tenth year of Islam, then consummated marriage 3 years later still. This would mean she must have been minimum age 16. Other important Islamic authorities such as Ibn Kathir make similar assessments of her age, even older, at the time of her marriage to Muhammad (pboh).”

    This is only relevant if you agree with me that marrying 9-year old girls is wrong. If it’s ok to marry 9-year old girls (like you seem to say in 28a), then this is self-defeating…

    So, which one is it: a) it’s ok to marry ‘grown-up’ 9-year olds or b) Aysha wasn’t 9 because it would be wrong to marry a 9-year old?

    “28c. The context is important. You’re trying to insinuate that Muhammad (pboh) was a paedophile or a sexual predator. But Muhammad (pboh) married a 40 year old lady when he was a young man in his prime (at the time in his life that biologically you would expect his sexual desire to be greatest). He stayed with this one lady until she died. He then married several women, including an elderly woman and divorced women who no other man wished to marry, and he also married Aysha. This does not fit the story of the allegation you’re trying to insinuate.”

    That’s beside the point. The point is he married a 9-year old. And that’s just not what the ‘perfect example for all peoples, all times’ should be doing…is it?

    Moreover, the usual ‘political alliance’ and ‘mercy’ reasons given for Muhammad’s numerous marriages doesn’t apply to Aysha, the daughter of his best friend. Precisely what reason did he have to marry this little girl???

    “29. Red Star’s argument: “Muhammad ordered the killing of hundreds of people.”

    29. Moosa’s response: I think I know the incident you’re talking about, but you’ll have to be more specific, then I’ll explain what actually happened.”

    The beheading of all of the men of the Banu Qurayza tribe of Jews is 627 by the order of Muhammad, the ‘mercy for all mankind’.

    “30. Red Star’s argument: “Muhammad didn’t respect the rights of others to their religion (even desecrating their idols and holy places).”

    30. Moosa’s response: I already explained this.”

    Nonsense explanation. According to this, the Jews have every right to demolish the Dome of the Rock and the Al-Aqsa mosque which is situated on their Temple Mount. Indeed, according to this logic, the Crusades were entirely justified too.

    Also, the Hindu destruction of the Babri Mosque in Ayodha (built over a Hindu holy site) was also justified according to this logic.

    “31. Red Star’s argument: “Muhammad sanctioned stoning to death (even though it was not an Islamic punishment, should it not have been so abhorent to such a ‘perfect man’ and ‘moral exemplar’ that he should’ve condemned such a barbaric act?).”

    31. Moosa’s response: This was according to the old Jewish law, which was what Muhammad (pboh) followed until God revealed a new Islamic law to him. He was a messenger of God, not a social reformer. He didn’t condemn acts unless God told him to condemn acts, particularly when the religious establishment of his time (the jewish scholars) were telling him that God wanted people stoned to death. ”

    So both God and Muhammad thought stoning to death was an appropriate punishment, and that there was nothing wrong with it? Why did the all-knowing God, who later told Muhammad that there was a different punishment, allow this to happen? Why was the appropriate verse not revealed at this time to prevent this?

    As for not condemning acts until God told him too, that’s just insane. So had it not been revealed, Muhammad wouldn’t have condemned an act of rape happening in front of him?

    Oh…wait…rape isn’t even mentioned the ‘perfect book’, is it? So I guess both God and Muhammad think that’s ok too…along with burying people to their necks and hurling rocks at their heads.

  85. Moosa Qureshi has made many good points about the age of Hadhrat Ayesha at the time of her marriage.

    Here, I want to link an article titled: Hadhrat Ayesha: A loving wife of the Holy Prophet of Islam:

    This is an article by Dr. Khaula Rehman, published in spring 2010 volume of the Muslim Sunrise.

    Different cultures in the past had different norms about marriage, for example, we know about the great Chinese sage, possibly a prophet of God, Confucius that his father Shu-liang, was a very old man and his mother a mere girl in her teens when Confucius was conceived. I have never known any Westerner raise hue and cry about this age disparity. For that matter, the Christian apologist also conveniently forget that from age 25 till 51, the Holy Prophet Muhammad was married only to Hadhrat Khadija, who was 15 years his senior.

    Ayesha’s marriage at a young and impressionable age and the mutual love and harmony of her marriage helped her idealize her husband and his teachings to such a degree that she became a perfect student and an ideal teacher for generations to come.. Find the link here:

    http://islam4jesus.org/article/hadhrat-ayesha-a-loving-wife-of-the-1qhnnhcumbuyp-155/

  86. “I write “reams and reams and reams” in response to your multitude of criticisms. Each response is a reply to an argument first made by you. If you make “reams and reams and reams” of criticisms, then surely you shouldn’t be surprised if you receive “reams and reams and reams” of replies.”

    Fair enough, valid point. I wasn’t complaining (I appreciate the time and effort you have taken), I was just explaining WHY I haven’t yet been able to respond to everything you’ve written (as there is so much of it!).

    I’ll deal with your new responses a.s.a.p.

  87. Dear Red Star,

    I’m going to ignore the comments you make which don’t contain relevant arguments, and focus on your more meaningful criticisms.

    I write “reams and reams and reams” in response to your multitude of criticisms. Each response is a reply to an argument first made by you. If you make “reams and reams and reams” of criticisms, then surely you shouldn’t be surprised if you receive “reams and reams and reams” of replies.

    I don’t think you wrote that Muhammad (pboh) married a nine year old on this thread. This is the first mention I find of it here.

    Let’s continue (but forgive me if my replies are somewhat brief and curt, it’s late at night):

    28. Red Star’s argument: “Muhammad married a nine-year old.”

    28. Moosa’s response:

    28a. Firstly, you cannot judge a 7th century arab bedouin society by the norms of 21st century europe. For instance, today in the UK most children are not allowed to work and remain in compulsory education until age 16, often they then go to university, they don’t work or take any responsibility till age 21. But even today, go to Afghanistan and you’ll find children (male and female) who are aged 9 and supporting their entire families. A 9 year old in 7th century Arabia is not equivalent to a 9 year old in 21st century UK. In particular, Aysha was an incredibly talented and intelligent and precocious individual, and taught Islam to many of the early companions of Muhammad (pboh). Intellectually and socially, I’m sure she was more mature aged 9 than many middle-aged women today.

    28b. There is no consensus regarding the age of Aysha at the time of her marriage to Muhammad (pboh). There are hadeeths which give her age as 9. However, Ibn Jarir Tabari (a highly eminent early historian of Islam) wrote that Aysha was born before the beginning of Islam, and Muhammad (pboh) betrothed her 3 years after the death of his first wife Khadija in the tenth year of Islam, then consummated marriage 3 years later still. This would mean she must have been minimum age 16. Other important Islamic authorities such as Ibn Kathir make similar assessments of her age, even older, at the time of her marriage to Muhammad (pboh).

    28c. The context is important. You’re trying to insinuate that Muhammad (pboh) was a paedophile or a sexual predator. But Muhammad (pboh) married a 40 year old lady when he was a young man in his prime (at the time in his life that biologically you would expect his sexual desire to be greatest). He stayed with this one lady until she died. He then married several women, including an elderly woman and divorced women who no other man wished to marry, and he also married Aysha. This does not fit the story of the allegation you’re trying to insinuate.

    29. Red Star’s argument: “Muhammad ordered the killing of hundreds of people.”

    29. Moosa’s response: I think I know the incident you’re talking about, but you’ll have to be more specific, then I’ll explain what actually happened.

    30. Red Star’s argument: “Muhammad didn’t respect the rights of others to their religion (even desecrating their idols and holy places).”

    30. Moosa’s response: I already explained this.

    31. Red Star’s argument: “Muhammad sanctioned stoning to death (even though it was not an Islamic punishment, should it not have been so abhorent to such a ‘perfect man’ and ‘moral exemplar’ that he should’ve condemned such a barbaric act?).”

    31. Moosa’s response: This was according to the old Jewish law, which was what Muhammad (pboh) followed until God revealed a new Islamic law to him. He was a messenger of God, not a social reformer. He didn’t condemn acts unless God told him to condemn acts, particularly when the religious establishment of his time (the jewish scholars) were telling him that God wanted people stoned to death.

    It’s midnight and I have to wake very early for work. I’ll continue later, God willing.

    Peace,
    Moosa

  88. “The fact is we do not have to rely on anyone’s unsubstantiated claims. The Western society has always believed in certain decorum in all different forums. There are laws against rude and disruptive language, against slander, against defaming someone, against insulting national symbols and even against denying certain history,, for example holocaust..”

    Holocaust denial is only a crime in a very few countries, and however repugnant I find it personally, I do not believe it should be a crime anywhere! People should be allowed to express alternative views and opinions, whatever we think of them.

    Slander and defamation, ok, but these are not opinions, views or self-expression: this is when someone deliberately misrepresents something (i.e. deliberately and knowingly lies about someone or something in the public domain).

  89. Moosa, some more response while I have a few short minutes:

    “Yes, I say it’s a GOOD thing to censor the Ahmadi community if it is a threat to public order. No Ahmadi says “public order isn’t important, you should give us our rights even if we threaten public order”. We say instead, “We’re not a threat to public order. You’re just oppressing our human rights because you oppose our beliefs”.

    Furthermore, the Pakistani government did not pass Ordinance XX “to protect public order”. General Zia himself didn’t give this justification, so why are you inventing this justification? He said we follow a false prophet, this is kufr, and the Islamic state had a responsibility to oppress kufr (in his opinion). Even if we promoted public good and happiness, he would have opposed us. Ordinance XX wasn’t passed on the basis of public order, it was passed on the basis of General Zia’s religious belief.”

    That may be true, but the explicit reason given by the Pakistani authorities for NOT REPEALING these absurd laws is that that would incite nationwide violence and agitation and indeed threaten public order (which is probably true). And you have just said in your statement that it is a “GOOD thing to censor the Ahmadi community if it is a threat to public order”, which means, I suppose, that you agree that these laws should not be repudiated?

    “Lastly, I should emphasise: I never said these cartoons threaten public order. I said that IF they threaten public order, then this would be a rational basis for prohibiting them, but it would be a matter for the Executive Legislative and Judicial organs of the state to decide on whether this was the case. My main objective was simply to bring to everybody’s attention that no human right is absolute.”

    That’s fine, there are legal restrictions on free speech (in terms of libel, advertising etc), but you have basically conceded that none of these apply in regards to these cartoons.

    “18. Moosa’s response: UCL gave its opinion that it had no legal right to tell the society to take down the picture. That doesn’t mean it had no legal right. As I said, it would need to go in front of a court to establish the legality of such. My personal opinion is that in this case the right of free speech outweighs the public order requirement, and in fact this would be the Islamic legal position (it’s well-known that the disbelievers habitually made fun of Muhammad (pboh) during his lifetime and he didn’t punish them for this). This is the reason why the official standpoint of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community is that we recognise your freedom to mock Muhammad (pboh) and we only appeal to your sense of civility when we advise you not to do this. However, my point stands that free speech is not an absolute right.

    19. Red Star’s argument: “And I reiterate, in Pakistan the ‘government executive’ decided that Ahmadiyyat was a ‘threat to public order’ and therefore censored them: was that the right thing to do?”

    19. Moosa’s response: I repeat, the Executive didn’t censor ahmadis on the basis that we were a threat to public order. In fact, the Munir Commission (a famous judicial enquiry in the 1960s in Pakistan) found specifically that we were not a threat to public order. The Ordinance itself describes its purpose as “to prohibit… Ahmadis from indulging in anti-Islamic activities”. There is zero mention of public order, it mentions only that it believes Ahmadis are acting against a specific religion and therefore should be oppressed merely on that basis. Furthermore, the actions it prohibits are not any form of attack (physical, intellectual or mockery), it prohibits an Ahmadi from even saying he is a Muslim, ie describing his own religious belief. Therefore of course I think it’s not the right thing to do. It’s completely bizarre for you to try to turn the anti-Ahmadiyya Ordinance into a question of public order.”

    SEE ABOVE – this has been dealt with. There is inaction in repealing these silly laws and the reason which is cited IS public order.

  90. Dear Red Star,

    I must say I’m rather disappointed (not that my opinion matters much) with the below.

    “I do, however, think it’s pretty funny that ‘I don’t have to answer because you haven’t covered all of my 1 million points’ stands as a reasonable argument in your book. Oh well, each to their own”

    Actually if you look carefully, many of the points Moosa wrote were answers to questions/arguments YOU raised. I think it is rather discourteous not to respond to these points at least.

    WRT your points about Muhammad, I think most people can lift that list off the internet- its nothing particularly challenging or new and has been answered elsewhere in detail. (I note you have asked ten questions, yet you have not responded to the previous ten).

    I do welcome this dialogue you have entered into on the blog and look forward to you responding to Moosa point by point.

    Peace

    Num

  91. Red Star seems to believe in the Golden rule but then in the next breath he chooses to obfuscate the issue. He feels that he or she is open to any ridicule, slandering and maligning, which anyone may want to level against him or her.. This is just a tall meaningless claim and will not be substantiated by his or her or anyone’s life.

    The fact is we do not have to rely on anyone’s unsubstantiated claims. The Western society has always believed in certain decorum in all different forums. There are laws against rude and disruptive language, against slander, against defaming someone, against insulting national symbols and even against denying certain history,, for example holocaust..

  92. “Red Star the key is the Golden rule.”

    In principle, I agree with the Golden Rule (“Do unto others as you would have done unto yourself”), but there are some practical consequences which you seem to have ignored. What if I am perfectly happy for your to draw cartoons, mock and ridicule me (well, more aptly, what I hold as important)? Then you have no argument in me doing the same to you.

    Moreover, some religionists think it’s ok to kill gays. They might argue that if they were gay, they would want to be killed too. Similar people might say if they were caught commiting adultery, they would be happy to be buried in the ground and stoned to death – therefore they have every right to do it to others (yes, I know stoning to death is NOT an Islamic punishment – but the actual punishment, a hundred cracks of the whip, is hardly any more civilised or worthy of congratulation).

    So you see, the Golden Rule has merit, but it falls apart when ‘what we would have done unto us’ is completely irrational and uncivilised.

    @ Moosa

    “Dear Red Star,

    Before I respond, I would like to emphasise: you have not responded to even 10% of my arguments”

    You write reams…and reams…and reams. And yet you appear not to have read any of the comparitively little I wrote. I began by saying:

    “Moosa, some responses (haven’t got time to address everything right now, but I’ll try and do the rest at a later time when I get the chance.”

    If that’s such a big problem for you, well I’m truly sorry.

    I do, however, think it’s pretty funny that ‘I don’t have to answer because you haven’t covered all of my 1 million points’ stands as a reasonable argument in your book. Oh well, each to their own 😉

    “Going back to the cartoon… you need to make your mind up. First you said it was a transubstantiation satire, then you said it was mockery, then you said it’s transubstantiation satire against Jesus (pboh) and you said that Muhammad (pboh) was simply incidental like the invisible person serving the beer, now again you say it was mockery because muslims “stick their fingers in their ears” when you try to argue with them. You’re an atheist who gives great importance to being rational. If you’re rational, then why are you so inconsistent in your arguments?”

    1) I’m not an atheist and 2) my arguments haven’t been inconsistent, if you actually read them (I wasn’t referring to that single cartoon when talking generally about the need to use mockery in arguing something – if this wasn’t clear, perhaps that’s my mistake and I apologise).

    “You have not challenged anything about Muhammad (pboh), that I have not been able to refute. When an atheist makes no effective rational challenge, and simply posts derogatory cartoons, then this does not mean I’ve stuck my fingers in my ears, this means the atheist has failed to make an effective rational challenge.”

    Actually I have (when you read the points below, you should be somewhat embarassed by the fact that many have been raised by me already). For the sake of argument, I’ll start afresh:

    1) Muhammad married a nine-year old.

    2) Muhammad ordered the killing of hundreds of people.

    3) Muhammad didn’t respect the rights of others to their religion (even desecrating their idols and holy places).

    4) Muhammad sanctioned stoning to death (even though it was not an Islamic punishment, should it not have been so abhorent to such a ‘perfect man’ and ‘moral exemplar’ that he should’ve condemned such a barbaric act?).

    5) Muhammad taught it was acceptable to take female prisoners of war and then marry them.

    6) Muhammad allowed others to sacrifice themselves for him (I believe the ‘handoftalha’ reference is pertinent here) but provides no example of where he was willing to sacrifice himself for others.

    7) Muhammad’s religion teaches one rule for him and another for his followers, and yet requires his followers to follow his example – a conundrum if ever there was one.

    8) Muhammad, conveniently, seemed to receive revelations which suited his purpose and absolved him of controversial actions.

    9) Muhammad said Abyssinians had ‘heads like shrivelled grapes’.

    10) Muhammad could have abolished slavery, but chose not to (he did free slaves, to some credit I suppose, but he made no move to teach that the system of slavery in itself was wrong).

    There’s a few to get you started. Let me guess, references are required? You’ll have to wait again I’m afraid…

  93. Ziah Shah, thank you for your very nice post. I particularly like the proverbs from non-religious sources, which hopefully will demonstrate to atheists that civility is a great and noble human quality, irrespective of whether that human believes in a particular religion. In fact, the atheists are not insulting Muhammad (pboh) by their cartoon, they are only insulting their own nobility of character.

    Peace,
    Moosa

  94. Dear Red Star,

    Before I respond, I would like to emphasise: you have not responded to even 10% of my arguments. You therefore have no ethical right to ask further questions of me. Whatever I say below, it is more than your right. I’m not saying this because I desire gratitude from you, I just think it’s important to be aware of the direction this conversation is going.

    Respect does indeed have to be earned. Answers also have to be earned. Dialogue has to be earned. A person who simply throws out objections and criticisms in perpetuity, and does not even register replies to those objections… has he earned a dialogue?

    Red Star, I don’t mean to be hurtful, but… don’t you feel embarrassed that you haven’t responded meaningfully to the arguments I’ve made, and instead you now throw up further (quite vague) criticism against Muhammad (pboh)? Let’s forget we’re talking about religion for a moment, let’s imagine we’re presenting our cases in front of a judge in a secular tribunal. Do you think the judge would listen to further evidence or arguments from you?

    Going back to the cartoon… you need to make your mind up. First you said it was a transubstantiation satire, then you said it was mockery, then you said it’s transubstantiation satire against Jesus (pboh) and you said that Muhammad (pboh) was simply incidental like the invisible person serving the beer, now again you say it was mockery because muslims “stick their fingers in their ears” when you try to argue with them. You’re an atheist who gives great importance to being rational. If you’re rational, then why are you so inconsistent in your arguments?

    You have not challenged anything about Muhammad (pboh), that I have not been able to refute. When an atheist makes no effective rational challenge, and simply posts derogatory cartoons, then this does not mean I’ve stuck my fingers in my ears, this means the atheist has failed to make an effective rational challenge.

    This is now my challenge to you: I’m not sticking my fingers in my ears. Bring your challenges about Muhammad (pboh).

    But first you need to answer my “outstanding questions” to you, listed above. If you can’t answer them, then I’ll simply conclude and publicly state that you have no rational argument. I won’t start drawing cartoons of you, don’t worry.

    Peace,
    Moosa

  95. Red Star the key is the Golden rule.

    Different formulations of the Golden rule in different traditions:
    Surely, the mercy of Allah is near those who do good to others (Al Quran 7:57).
    No one of you is a believer until you desire for your neighbor that which you desire for yourself. (The Holy Prophet Muhammad)
    He sought for others the good he desired for himself. (Egyptian Book of the Dead)
    Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. (Law of Moses)
    Do not do to your neighbor that you would take ill from him. (Grecian instruction)
    Do as you would be done by. (Zoroaster, Persia)
    What you would not wish done to yourself do not unto others. (Confucius, China)
    One should seek for others the happiness one desires for oneself. (Buddhist instruction)
    The law imprinted on the hearts of all men is to love the members of society as themselves. (Roman Law)
    All things therefore whatsoever you would that men should do unto you, even so you do unto them; for this is the law of the prophets. (Jesus Christ)
    Think of God first, think of others second and then put yourself third. (Robert H Schuller)
    A great man shows his greatness, by the way he treats little men. (Sir Thomas Carlyle).
    The hand that gives gathers. (An English Proverb).
    “Woe to those . . . who, when they have to receive by measure from men, exact full measure, but when they have to give by measure or weight to men, give less than due.” (Al Quran 83:2-4)
    By God Who holds my life in His Hand, none of you can be a truly faithful Muslim, unless he liked for his brother what he liked for himself. (The Holy Prophet Muhammad)

    http://www.alislam.org/library/books/Forty_Gems_of_Beauty-20080905MN.pdf

    In other words, how much abuse, maligning and slander are the agnostics and atheists willing to take for themselves, for their loved ones, for their mothers, their country, their flag, their national anthems, their royalty and their heroes? There is a saying, ‘what goes around comes around!’ I am not trying to be blunt or rude but just trying to make you and those who think like you understand.

    I, personally, prefer to have a civil discourse, to the best of our abilities without killing the dialogue. All the Best!

  96. “No serious government proposes that human rights should outweigh the public good, and indeed communist states have all (I think without exception?) oppressed individual human rights to a severe extent for what they thought was the public good. Of course, this leaves open the question “what is the public good?”. Governments interpret this differently, in my opinion some better than others. For sure, all the communist states interpreted it very badly. Marxism may look pretty in books, but in practice it’s always produced failed governments.”

    There have been NO ‘communist states’.

    Let me repeat that, there have been NO communist states.

    In fact the term ‘communist state’ is an oxymoron.

    If you know anything at all about Marxist theory (which doesn’t look likely), you’ll know that after the capitalist mode of production, SOCIALISM is required (some divergent thinkers, rightly or wrongly, argue it isn’t) as an intermediary stage on the path to COMMUNISM.

    Capitalism = mode of production controlled by private interests

    Socialism = mode od production controlled by state (in interests of public)

    Communism = mode of production controlled by the producers (the public, the people)

    Communist Parties (‘Vanguard Parties’ in Marxist-Leninist political philopsophy) are parties which seek to, with the help of popular revolution, overthrow the capitalist system and establish a socialist system which will EVENTUALLY develop into a communist system/commune.

    Hence the name Union of Soviet SOCIALIST Republics. You will not find, in the history of any nation state, the existence of the epithet ‘Communist Republic’. That is because one has never existed.

    There are actually 2 exceptions (although both were city communes and not nation states) – they are the Paris Commune of 1871 and the Petrograd Soviet of 1917 (‘soviet’ means ‘workers’ council’ in Russian).

    Now, the inherent danger with socialism (particularly in countries like Russia and China which were feudal/medieval and not well developed economically and technologically) is that there tends to be a lot of bureacracy involved (as a necessity in the reorganisation of the state). In the case of both the USSR and North Korea in particular, this was compounded by the constant threat of invasion and aggression from the capitalist (and in the 1930s, fascist) powers.

    This meant the divergence of significant resources to military needs.

    I will continue this later, but it is quite easy to see why socialist countries have gone the way they have and indeed how these mistakes and problems might be avoided. I would also add that a whole continent (South America) has turned socialist in the past decade (with many not noticing) and very successfully so. Cuba is also an example, along with the post-Stalin USSR, of a successful socialist state which improved the lot of its people and made great social, economic and scientific achievements (Cuban medicine is outstanding – its healthcare system is world-renowned).

    Also, almost ALL of the countries in Europe are based on social democracy (a form of socialism) which is why we have the NHS, labour rights and a welfare state.

    Sweden is an example of an outstanding social democratic country which ranks as top of virtually every measurable factor in living standards on the planet.

    Moreover, socialist states have opposed and provided a counterweight to Western, Imperialist, Colonialist and Capitalist aggression and expansion as well as favouring and working towards peace (the first act of the RSFSR – Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic – in 1917 was to withdraw from the utterly terrible and humanity-destroying First World War).

    I could write a whole book here, but I’ve got to go. I’ll try and deal with your other points as soon as I can.

  97. Moosa, some responses (haven’t got time to address everything right now, but I’ll try and do the rest at a later time when I get the chance.

    “My personal opinion is that in this case the right of free speech outweighs the public order requirement, and in fact this would be the Islamic legal position (it’s well-known that the disbelievers habitually made fun of Muhammad (pboh) during his lifetime and he didn’t punish them for this). This is the reason why the official standpoint of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community is that we recognise your freedom to mock Muhammad (pboh) and we only appeal to your sense of civility when we advise you not to do this.”

    Ok, now this is interesting. So, basically, the cartoons are not a threat to public order, they are breaking no laws, you simply want them to be taken down out of ‘respect’ and in as sense of ‘civility’?

    Am I reading you right?

    Respect has to be earned, and civility can often be used to stifle genuine concern, anger or doubt about things. Can you agree to this?

    Many of those who are not Muslim (not all, I admit) do not find much worthy of respect in Muhammad (or even Jesus, though he is a bit less controversial for a variety of reasons) and they feel that there are certain aspects of Muhammad’s actions and teachings (mostly related, but not limited, to violence and gender) which need to be challenged.

    Many of the same people also find religion objectionable and find that it is usually futile debating or arguing with religionists as they tend to, proverbially, stick their fingers in their ears and repeat “we can’t hear you”. Therefore, mockery or ridicule (in various forms, usually satirical and light-hearted, occasionally pernicious and crude) are sometimes used to ‘get through’ to religionists (and considering the results/evidence, it seems to work in that it does seem to at least engage them and make them take notice).

    Zia…

    “It may be that Red Star points can be answered by understanding that there is freedom of speech but no freedom to abuse, malign and slander.”

    The cartoons didn’t abuse, malign or slander anyone (who is alive – actually these cartoons, for sure, didn’t abuse, malign or slander anyone who is dead, either). And if Adolf Hitler or the biblical/qur’anic Pharaoh were alive, should people not have the right to abuse, malign and slander them?

    Interestingly, I think both the Bible and Qur’an actually abuse, malign and slander a great many people who are alive at the time. Why does that not offend you?

    “The details and definitions of each may be somewhat difficult, but at least all of us can appreciate the broad concept.”

    Not really…see above.

    “It is not only the Muslims who are sensitive, when it comes to religious figures and important shrines, rather all religious communities have some sensitivities. Some may be inappropriate but many are reasonable”

    This is not an argument. This is just saying superstitious people are sensitive about their superstitions, so we shouldn’t make fun of their superstitions…

    Not working for me, I’m afraid.

  98. It may be that Red Star points can be answered by understanding that there is freedom of speech but no freedom to abuse, malign and slander. The details and definitions of each may be somewhat difficult, but at least all of us can appreciate the broad concept.

  99. just like to answer a question repeatedly ask by Red Star.

    Red Star’s argument: “How is what you are calling for different from the Muslims who take ‘offence’ at Ahmadi literature being penned, published and disseminated in Pakistan? You have very different views on that, though, don’t you?”

    Reformer means a person who reforms. And he is required when people forgets the true teachings of their religion. Jews, Buddhist, Hindus and Muslims all religions have their reformer. They bring people the light of God and revive their religion through divine guidance.
    Similarly, God promised Muslims to send a reformer and He sent it in personification of Hdhrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad of Qadian(as). So whatever he said , is divinely guided.
    He didn’t say anything from his own will, but by the will of God. And this task was assigned to him by God.
    If we take it like this that he hurt the feelings of other Muslims, then every prophet hurt the feelings of the people of its time. Abraham(as) shouldn’t have said that there is one God. Moses Shouldn’t have said their is one God, Jesus Christ should not have said that I am the Elijah.
    But they all said because they were asked by God to say that.
    For the followers of religions it is clear that whenever prophets called towards Allah there are people those who oppose them at first but later by the divine decree they understand the truthfulness of the religion and the true words of prophets.
    Hence hadhrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad (as) hasn’t said anything different to the teaching of Holy Qura’n or tradition of Prophet Mohammad (pbuh).
    Promised Messiah(as) and his khulafas are doing their duty and it is to reform mankind by telling them their rights and duties towards Allah and His creation.

  100. Interesting discussion. Look forward to Red Star’s response.

    That being said, I hope this discussion gets circulated wider, as I feel many more might like to see the depth of arguments being presented by both sides.

    Peace

  101. Red Star,

    I thank you for your general civility during this discussion. I also appreciate the time you’ve taken to communicate your ideas on free speech. Take your time. If you know Jacob personally, then please remind him that he was supposed to respond to my original post about 4 or 5 days ago.

    I have numbered our points of disagreement, and then summarised outstanding issues at the end, to organize our discussion and facilitate your future response. I hope you find it useful.

    Peace,
    Moosa

  102. Evel – fantastic post! Much more eloquent than me, I think! Plus that video of the Hitch is superb. I saw it a few months ago and it really made me think.

    @ Moosa. Take a break, dude. Spend some time with your wife. I’m going to be busy over the next few days, so I’ll look at the veritable book you’ve written for me after that (I do appreciate the time you’ve taken).

  103. Hand of Talha is just the Admin name here. You, just like everyone else, are quite welcome to go by whatever name you like so long as profanity is not involved.

  104. “PS Are Red Star and Evel your real names? There’s no need for secrecy. The Ahmadiyya Community has never practiced violence or persecution against our opponents.”

    Can’t speak for Evel, but ‘Red Star’ is no less real than ‘handoftalha’ or ‘peace4everynation’. 😉

  105. OUTSTANDING QUESTIONS FOR RED STAR

    Dear Red Star,

    This list is not exhaustive but it’s now 1am and I’ve spent the last 5 hours writing these posts to you, so I’ll settle for this as a summary of oustanding issues not settled between us. I have responded to all your arguments, I’d be grateful if you do the same. This will provide a satisfactory conclusion, since obviously we cannot both continue arguing ad infinitum.

    Here’s the list:

    (A) Red Star misrepresented me in Argument 5, he never replied to my Response 5.

    (B) Red Star’s Argument 6 that cartoons cannot hurt people is clearly flawed. No response to my Response 6.

    (C) Red Star keeps making the argument that cartoon mockery isn’t the same as racism or physical violence, in his Argument 8 I have repeatedly explained why this is not a valid argument, he has never responded.

    (D) Red Star has repeatedly challenged us what right we have to dictate his cartoons or writings (eg his Arguments 9, 23), even though we have repeatedly acknowledged his legal right to free speech and we have never suggested we would dictate his cartoons or free speech. We only suggest that civility is good manners and conducive to a healthy intellectual discussion. We believe that mockery simply creates emotional bad vibes and thereby distracts people from objectively evaluating the intellectual value of the arguments being presented. To my mind, Red Star’s repeated response “we have freedom of speech” is not a valid argument against our request for atheists to be civil. Red Star and the atheists are using free speech to escape from the issue of civility.

    (E) Red Star has repeatedly alleged that Ahmadis are hypocritical because we oppose free speech of atheists but support our own free speech against Sunni Muslims, in Arguments 10 and 17 and 19. I have explained how his allegation is unjustified in Responses 10 and 17 and 19, but he has failed to retract his allegation of hypocrisy (he doesn’t use the word “hypocrisy” but it is strongly implied).

    (F) Red Star has alleged that religions “coerce” in Argument 11, I have responded to this with a quotation from the Qur’an which clearly forbids even Muhammad (pboh) from coercing his religion, let alone other muslims being permitted to coerce. Red Star has not responded to me or admitted his allegation is unfounded.

    (G) In Argument 12, Red Star has supported the idea of “ridiculing the ridiculous”. When I have responded by pointing out numerous reasons why this is not a correct argument, he has not admitted frankly his error, but instead has run back to the “satire about transubstantiaton” justification in his Arguments 21 and 22. I have, however, pointed out in my Responses 21 and 22 that transubstantiation cannot be the reason for including Muhammad (pboh) in the cartoon, therefore his presence in the cartoon arguably represents gratuitous mockery.

    (H) Red Star presents very confused arguments in Argument 15 and 16. I have spent some time trying to de-confuse them.

    (I) Red Star has tried to present Marxism favourably in comparison to Islam because muslims believe that Islam is perfect, in his Arguments 25, 26 and 27. I have responded by saying that Marxism and Islam can’t really be compared fairly on this basis (since one claims to be the product of Divine revelation and one does not). The only fair comparison is on the teachings of both systems, in this respect I argue that Islam is far superior, for sure in terms of practical performance.

    (J) I have asked Red Star to justify his insinuation that Islam teaches muslims to “kill all the dirty kuffar” in Argument 16 and incites “hatred and violence” in Argument 20 and “behead all who insult…” in Argument 27. I await his evidence for these completely unfounded and scurrilous insinuations. If he tries to provide such evidence, then I will respond to demonstrate how poor is his knowledge of the content of the Qur’an, and how he is presenting it completely out of context. If he cannot provide any evidence, then I request him to be “civil” (I hope this concept is now clearly distinguished from “legal requirement”) and he should publicly renounce these insinuations. Other than this, I shall not speak to Red further in this thread, since I believe I have discharged my obligation to him in full.

    Peace,
    Moosa

  106. Dear Red Star,

    Regarding Communism and Islam…

    24. Red Star’s argument: “Well, all this does is prove my point! The USSR ADMITTED Stalin’s errors and MOVED ON from them. This is something Islam could never do with regards to Muhammad (because he was supposedly ‘perfect’) and Ahmadis can never do with regards to their Khalifas (because they’re ‘divinely appointed’ and ‘divinely guided’). Show me a place where Ahmadis have written the same about Muhammad or Mirza Ghulam Ahmad or their Khalifas?
    This reference is solid evidence that Communists understand that they are HUMAN BEINGS capable of making MISTAKES and are also sage enough to ACKNOWLEDGE these and MAKE THEMSELVES BETTER. This is something most religionists are incapable of doing.”

    24. Moosa’s response: This is indeed a difference between us, on how we view Karl Marx and Muhammad (pboh) – although you seem to still think that Karl Marx was correct? However, I hope you’ll admit that the USSR didn’t admit errors easily… it only admitted Stalin’s errors after demonstrable repeated errors (and atrocities) ordered directly by Stalin on a huge scale which resulted directly in millions of deaths. You also, strangely enough, though you keep talking (theoretically) about infallibility as evil, seem to have a complete inability (in practice) to accept that your arguments against Islam may be fallible.

    The point is: at least we muslims are consistent. We believe in God. God (by definition) is infallible. What, do you expect us to believe in a God Who makes mistakes? Obviously, an infallible God would give an infallible message to Muhammad (pboh). Now you can’t deny that these are all logical and rational consequences from the premise that God exists. The only two ways you can argue against this is: (a) if you can disprove God’s existence, or (b) if you can prove that the message of Islam has mistakes or errors in it. (a) is obviously impossible, (b) you can try.

    But in any case, your cartoons do not succeed in achieving either (a) or (b). This is why, in my opinion, they are gratuitous mockery. For me, gratuitous mockery is uncivilised. You can disagree with me about this if you wish, obviously in that case we simply have very different ideas of civility.

    25. Red Star’s argument: [responding to my question what Red Star thinks of Stalin, Mao and Kim II-sung] “Yep, they were just as bad as the Muslims who do this. Difference is, I am happy and willing to admit that and learn from those awful events and you aren’t…”

    25. Moosa’s response: Red Star, I salute your honesty in admitting the fact that the most important world leaders of “communism in practice” were bad. I also admit that muslims who “oppress and coerce” are bad. Therefore I have learned as much as you. However, I won’t accept that Muhammad (pboh) or Mirza Ghulam Ahmad (pboh) or the Khalifas were similar to the communist leaders, unless you show me evidence that they also “oppressed and coerced” in this fashion. You surely don’t expect me to accept something which isn’t true. So where’s your evidence that they oppressed and coerced?

    26. Red Star’s argument: “Read ‘Why Marx Was Right’ by Terry Eagleton and also have a look at what’s going on with Capitalism today, and then try saying that…”

    26. Moosa’s response: What kind of argument is that? You read the Qur’an with the Ahmadi commentary here http://www.alislam.org/quran/tafseer/?region=E1&CR=E1%2CE2 and the most cogent rational modern presentation of Islam here http://www.alislam.org/library/books/revelation/index.html and then you try saying that Islam isn’t from God. If you won’t do that, then why do you expect me to read your books? At least my books are free of charge and easily accessible on the internet, not like your communist books which make a profit for commercial organisations.

    Instead of telling me to read your books, please present here concisely why you think Marxism isn’t in practice a failed and discredited system of government. There’s no point in having a political theory which has never succeeded in practice!

    27. Red Star’s argument: “Marx looked at the EVIDENCE of history and (correctly) predicted how human economics and politics and indeed society would evolve. No divine revelation required. And even better, his works are not ‘infallible’ and can be challenged, improved, reviewed, edited, and even mocked (without anyone threatening ‘behead all who insult Marx’ as a result).”

    27. Moosa’s response: Marx’s predictions were completely wrong. There was never a “dictatorship of the proletariat”. The proletariat never exercised political control within a democratic process as he predicted. And as for “pure communism” or a “stateless society”, this proved to be pure fantasy. In fact, philosophically, the entire concept is fundamentally flawed, but we can talk about that in another discussion if you wish.

    Perhaps more importantly, you’re misrepresenting both Islam and myself when you insinuate “without anyone threatening to ‘behead all who insult Marx’ as a result”. Regarding Islam, Muhammad (pboh) actually had animal carcasses thrown on him, saw the disbelievers mutilate and cannibalise his uncle’s body during a battle, was continually mocked by his opponents, and did not retaliate by punishing any of these acts (even the first two acts which are recognised as crimes in modern civilised nations). Regarding myself and the Ahmadiyya Muslim community, where did we threaten to behead any person?

    I think this is the end of my responses, my next post will list outstanding questions which remain unanswered by yourself.

    Peace,
    Moosa

  107. More more more for Red Star…

    22. Red Star’s argument: “The cartoon, as I have already said, is a reference to the Christian belief in transubstantiation. That Mo is there is almost incidental – the whole purpose of the cartoon series to show Jesus and Mo debating Christian and Islamic beliefs with each other and religion per se with the non-visible barmaid. It’s a satirical tool. Mo isn’t even the subject of this particular cartoon in this regard.”

    22. Moosa’s response: See my response 21 above for why I don’t accept this argument. Furthermore, even if the cartoonist did really have his head buried in the ground like an ostrich and had no idea that Muhammad (pboh) drinking in a pub was offensive to muslims, then he fails what is known in English law as “the reasonable man test”, ie the reasonable man would have been aware that this would be offensive. On the other hand, if he did know it would be offensive, then the cartoon of Muhammad (pboh) was gratuitious mockery, it was not at all necessary and did not contribute in any way to the transubstantiation argument, therefore in relation to Muhammad (pboh) this cartoon was not satire, it was gratuitious mockery.

    23. Red Star’s argument: “In any event, even if ALL of your complaints about this cartoon were true (which they’re not), people still have the right to create and publish such cartoons. What you think of them is irrelevant – that IS the point. Just as religionists can create and publish works which non-religionists might find utterly pointless, absurd or even offensive, so does everyone else have the right to do the same.”

    23. Moosa’s response: Sighs in perplexity. Red Star, how many times do I have to repeat that the Ahmadiyya Muslim community acknowledges your legal right to publish such cartoons? This is very frustrating, when you keep making the same argument when we have already agreed multiple times on this issue. Our issue isn’t with your legal right, our issue is with your civility. But you keep running to legality and you keep running away from the civility issue. Why is that? Is it because you know that the atheists who published this cartoon are not behaving in a civil way?

    Peace,
    Moosa

  108. More for Red Star…

    20. Red Star’s argument: “Moreover, many argue that there are statements in the Qur’an which ARE incitement to hatred and violence. Should they therefore be censored/removed?”

    20. Moosa’s response: Yes, absolutely. I am not a person to hide behind the historical or social or anthropological value of the Qur’an. I believe in the Qur’an as a dynamic code for life which applies today. If you can prove that statements in the Qur’an are incitement to hatred and violence, then they should indeed be censored. But it’s not useful to talk hypothetically. Prove this allegation to be true, or else have the moral uprightness to publicly renounce this allegation. At least have the civility not to keep mentioning this allegation if you can’t support it with any evidence.

    21. Red Star’s argument: “If you look at the series of Jesus and Mo cartoons, you can see they raise ‘intellectual debate’ – they do this through something called satire (yes that requires a sense of humour, which you do not seem to possess). This particular cartoon was poking fun at the silly Christian (Catholic) belief that bread and wine literally turn into the body and blood of Christ (‘transubstantiation’). Other cartoons have brought to light errors in the Qur’an (mountains are ‘pegs’ which ‘stop the earth from shaking’ etc) as well as the obsession with gaining converts and one upmanship in this regard between religions (‘we have tens of millions of followers in 200 countries blah blah blah).”

    21. Moosa’s reponse: What I don’t understand is that at one place you support “ridiculing the ridiculous”, ie admit that this is mere mockery and ridicule, and then at another place you try to make this into satire. Furthermore, your transubstantiation explanation doesn’t apply to Muhammad (pboh), it provides no explanation why he was in the cartoon. Therefore, if satire was there, it certainly did not apply to Muhammad (pboh). You cannot pretend that he was there as an innocent “oversight”… political cartoons are never innocent, each political cartoon has an agenda, each figure in that cartoon carries a message. We weren’t born yesterday, Red Star! With regard to Muhammad (pboh) specifically, we think this was mockery. If you argue that it was not mockery, then still you have behaved irresponsibly in including a person in a cartoon who any reasonable person would have known would cause offense to a muslim in that context. You can say what you like. I don’t believe the cartoonist had no idea that including Muhammad (pboh) in a cartoon, drinking something in a pub, would cause offense to muslims, and I don’t believe that Muhammad (pboh)’s presence had anything to do with transubstantiation.

    Regarding the “mountains as pegs” which “stop the earth from shaking”, you’re making fun of something without even reading the wording of the Qur’an properly. The Qur’an in Chapter 78 Verse 8 simply says that the mountains are “pegs”, it doesn’t say that mountains stop the earth from moving. This is the one reference to the word “peg”, and in Arabic that word can have many other meanings also. Then there are three verses (Chapter 16 Verse 16, Chapter 21 Verse 32,Chapter 31 Verse 11) which say that God has placed firm mountains in the earth so that the earth does not quake. This does not say that mountains prevent earthquakes, it says that firm mountains act to prevent earthquakes (as opposed to non-firm completely mobile mountains) ie it says that God has made the mountains firm so that the earth does not quake, it doesn’t say that the mountains themselves stop earthquakes. You have to remember this in the context of the Qur’an acknowledging elsewhere that mountains are actually “floating” (Chapter 27 Verse 89). The point being made is that it is God’s power which stabilises mountains (despite plate tectonics) so that earthquakes do not happen all the time as you would expect when mountains are floating around on a hot bed of viscous mantle. Ie God can be paraphrased as saying “Elsewhere I’ve said that mountains are floating, but I’ve also made them stable so that the earth does not quake continuously even though the mountains are moving”.

    Peace,
    Moosa

  109. Dear Red Star,

    I’m going to mop up a few outstanding arguments made by yourself, and present some brief responses, then I’ll list all my arguments which you haven’t answered, and then my work is done, my promise is kept. After you’ve answered my arguments, then our respective positions should be clear for the evaluation of any person who reads this thread.

    17. Red Star’s argument: “My point about the status of Ahmadis under the Blasphemy Law and Ordnance XX in Pakistan is in DIRECT RESPONSE to your utter nonsense about ‘Public Order’.
    In Pakistan, as Ahmadis shout very loudly about, your community is CENSORED because if you weren’t it is considered a ‘threat to public order’.
    Are you and your fellow Ahmadis now saying that this is a GOOD thing???”

    17. Moosa’s response: It’s not “my” utter nonsense about public order, it’s in the United Nations Convention for Human Rights and in all written constitutions in one form or another. No serious government proposes that human rights should outweigh the public good, and indeed communist states have all (I think without exception?) oppressed individual human rights to a severe extent for what they thought was the public good. Of course, this leaves open the question “what is the public good?”. Governments interpret this differently, in my opinion some better than others. For sure, all the communist states interpreted it very badly. Marxism may look pretty in books, but in practice it’s always produced failed governments.

    Yes, I say it’s a GOOD thing to censor the Ahmadi community if it is a threat to public order. No Ahmadi says “public order isn’t important, you should give us our rights even if we threaten public order”. We say instead, “We’re not a threat to public order. You’re just oppressing our human rights because you oppose our beliefs”.

    Furthermore, the Pakistani government did not pass Ordinance XX “to protect public order”. General Zia himself didn’t give this justification, so why are you inventing this justification? He said we follow a false prophet, this is kufr, and the Islamic state had a responsibility to oppress kufr (in his opinion). Even if we promoted public good and happiness, he would have opposed us. Ordinance XX wasn’t passed on the basis of public order, it was passed on the basis of General Zia’s religious belief.

    Lastly, I should emphasise: I never said these cartoons threaten public order. I said that IF they threaten public order, then this would be a rational basis for prohibiting them, but it would be a matter for the Executive Legislative and Judicial organs of the state to decide on whether this was the case. My main objective was simply to bring to everybody’s attention that no human right is absolute.

    18. Red Star’s argument: “WRONG! The UCL has already apologised for asking the society to take down the picture as it had NO LEGAL RIGHT to do so! If you want them to take it down, why don’t YOU take them to court and see what the legislature makes of the situation.”

    18. Moosa’s response: UCL gave its opinion that it had no legal right to tell the society to take down the picture. That doesn’t mean it had no legal right. As I said, it would need to go in front of a court to establish the legality of such. My personal opinion is that in this case the right of free speech outweighs the public order requirement, and in fact this would be the Islamic legal position (it’s well-known that the disbelievers habitually made fun of Muhammad (pboh) during his lifetime and he didn’t punish them for this). This is the reason why the official standpoint of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community is that we recognise your freedom to mock Muhammad (pboh) and we only appeal to your sense of civility when we advise you not to do this. However, my point stands that free speech is not an absolute right.

    19. Red Star’s argument: “And I reiterate, in Pakistan the ‘government executive’ decided that Ahmadiyyat was a ‘threat to public order’ and therefore censored them: was that the right thing to do?”

    19. Moosa’s response: I repeat, the Executive didn’t censor ahmadis on the basis that we were a threat to public order. In fact, the Munir Commission (a famous judicial enquiry in the 1960s in Pakistan) found specifically that we were not a threat to public order. The Ordinance itself describes its purpose as “to prohibit… Ahmadis from indulging in anti-Islamic activities”. There is zero mention of public order, it mentions only that it believes Ahmadis are acting against a specific religion and therefore should be oppressed merely on that basis. Furthermore, the actions it prohibits are not any form of attack (physical, intellectual or mockery), it prohibits an Ahmadi from even saying he is a Muslim, ie describing his own religious belief. Therefore of course I think it’s not the right thing to do. It’s completely bizarre for you to try to turn the anti-Ahmadiyya Ordinance into a question of public order.

    Peace,
    Moosa

  110. Dear Evel,

    There’s a lot of sense in what you say, I hope if you read my posts you’ll see a similarity in our positions. I’m merely saying that I would discourage certain behaviours on grounds of civility or “good manners”, even if I acknowlege that legally those behaviours should not be prohibited.

    However, I cannot engage with your points in detail or give them the time and attention they deserve, because I have already devoted many hours to responding to Red Star, and denied my time to my family, because of a commitment I made to Red Star.

    I hope that we’re able to find common ground as a society, and recognise that (whatever our belief, including no belief) we are all humans and there is more which binds us together than divides us.

    I’m going to post a few messages to Red Star now, I don’t think there’ll be much more I can usefully add after that.

    Peace,
    Moosa

    PS Are Red Star and Evel your real names? There’s no need for secrecy. The Ahmadiyya Community has never practiced violence or persecution against our opponents.

  111. I really have to agree with Red Star here. I find a great deal of theology highly offensive, particularly because I’m female.

    But my offense is irrelevant. Even my distress is irrelevant, I don’t have a right not be offended in the public sphere. If someone posts awful pictures of my grandmother I have the right use my free speech to counteract it. I don’t have the right to bully them into complying with my idea of what is acceptable for them to say,

    That isn’t to say there aren’t limits. I live in America and I would be deeply offended and angered if a school administration posted pictures of Muhommed in a public school. That would amount to a kind of government-sanctioned bullying that would be both immoral and unconstitutional. But a university student group isn’t the administration.

    I am deeply offended by many images and opinions I encounter on an almost daily basis (mostly because I spend way to much time on the internet). Neo-nazis, pedophiles, religious extremists, men who say the most horrific things- like that women should be forced into rape camps or have their vocal chords cut out at birth. (And not as jokes.) Encountering those thing has made me better and stronger because I’ve had to consider and articulate ideas that I otherwise would not have. I’m sure everyone here has seen something worse than a Jesus and Mo cartoon. Are these things good? Maybe, maybe not. Depends who you ask. My government decided that I shouldn’t see the caskets (much less the dead bodies) of American soldiers or Iraqis and Afghan citizens. They are offensive and disturbing to be sure, and that is exactly why they don’t want me to see them. Do I want to look at them? No. Absolutely not. Should I? Maybe. Probably. Can I understand the human cost of these wars if I don’t, despite how offensive they may be?

    Aside from all that, if I use the government to bully my opponents into silence:

    1) What happens on the day when the majority decides I am the offensive one? Popular opinions don’t need protection. Things that are unoffensive by definition don’t need protection. But some of the best ideas are ones that the majority, or those in power, decide are bad, Arab spring, anyone? How can we justify the right for people to speak out against injustice without protecting unpopular speech?

    2) Preventing people from speaking also means preventing people from hearing. This has several implications.

    First, I am preventing people from making autonomous decisions, including myself. I would essentially be preventing myself from learning. If I can’t make a better argument other that “My feelings are hurt!” or “Oh, that’s icky!” perhaps I should reconsider my position. I should at least reconsider my argument. But I can’t do that if public discourse on the subject if prevented, can I?

    Second, if I already have the better argument what am I afraid of? It is in everyone’s interest to keep dialogue open because the moment you shut it down is the moment you lose your ability to share that better argument with others in a meaningful way.

    3) It gives the perception that I have something to be afraid of and that my opponents are the victims. And it gives the impression that my feelings are more important than someone else’s. Because I think they are. If my feelings trump your free speech, then what expression or idea can’t be trumped? They can all be declared hurtful, it’s simply up to the majority to make it so.

    I leave you with this video of Christopher Hitchens discussing freedom of speech at the University of Toronto.

    He discusses the limits of free speech and the implications of banning Holocaust denial. At about 5:15 he mentions something really important about free speech that I touched on above but didn’t articulate nearly so well. That is asking yourself how you really know if what you think is true? How can you do that if you never see or hear anything that contradicts what you think is true?

    PS and this is why I especially support the free speech of American Muslims. Well people everywhere of all beliefs, but especially here because I live here lol. Even while I disagree with their theology (I’m atheist, I disagree with theology as a matter of course 😉 ) I absolutely want them to be heard even when they aren’t saying anything I want to hear because they might tell me (or other people) something worth knowing. And even if they don’t, they deserve that opportunity to try because I have it. And, selfishly, because as a member of another religious minority it benefits me.

    When a bunch of morons try to ban a mosque and community center because it’s too close to the World Trade Center site, the way that we best counter that is not to bully or guilt them into acquiescence, but to counter it with superior ethical (and legal, but with regard to free association and free speech the two very much overlap) arguments. As much as I’d never like to hear from those idiots again, if we just shut them down no one would ever hear those better arguments. Look, the only thing that shutting down free speech does is uphold the status quo. And to quote Dr. Horrible- the status is not quo. If you want free inquiry to exist, if you believe that religious freedom depends on free will, then you have to allow free choice. And to allow free choice you have to open yourself up to offense. You have to accept that not everyone will choose as you did.

  112. Dear Red Star,

    16. Red Star’s argument: “Now, if it INCITES hatred or violence (like saying Jews are pigs and monkeys, or you disbelievers are going to burn in hell, or kill all the dirty kuffar), then that’s a different matter. It’s DIFFERENT because it is a PHYSICAL THREAT of HARM to other human beings.
    This is why there is legislation against incitement to hatred and violence. This is why racism, sexism, homophobia etc are unacceptable and this unacceptability is enshrined in legistlation.
    A cartoon of Jesus and Mo sitting at a bar is no such thing.”

    Moosa’s response: You’re again getting very confused, or else you’re being illogical. Let’s try to unravel again.

    (i) We’ve already clearly accepted that offense is not the same as the threat of physical violence. That’s irrelevant to whether or not a civilised human being should be offensive. Theft is not the same as murder, but that doesn’t mean theft is okay (just because murder is much worse).

    (ii) You then get confused and state (wrongly) that racism, sexism, homophobia are unacceptable and illegal because there is “incitement to hatred and violence”. How is sexism related to inciting “hatred and violence”? Organisations are found guilty of sexism even if they don’t give a woman equal pay to a man, this has nothing to do with that organisation “inciting hatred and violence” against the woman. It’s embarrassing to read these sorts of illogical statements from you, Red Star.

    (iii) I also note your side-swipe at Islam by talking about jews as pigs and monkeys, or disbelievers burn in hell, or kill all the kuffar. Since you make a three-pronged attack, I’m going to have to go to the trouble of demonstrating your ignorance of the Qur’anic message with three explanations:

    (iiia) The phrase “monkeys and pigs” is applied by the Qur’an in Chapter 5 verse 61 to people cursed by God, not only specifically the jews. It’s used figuratively, because monkeys are feral and pigs are shameless, therefore effective God curses people who are feral and shameless. You can read the verse and explanation here: http://www.alislam.org/quran/tafseer/?page=252&region=EN&CR=E1,E2&CR=E1,E2

    The Qur’an does specifically refer to a small particular group of jews as “apes” in Qur’an Chapter 2 Verse 66, because those particular jews disobeyed God. Nowhere does the Qur’an speak of ALL jews as being apes or monkeys.

    (iiib) The most important thing to understand about hell is that in Islamic philosophy, hell is a spiritual purifying fire which burns a person’s sins away and purifies him (much like physical fire gets rid of bacteria). Therefore fundamentally, hell is actually an act of beneficence from God. But in any case, the fact that disbelievers will burn in hell is not in any way an incitement to physical violence. Hell is from God alone, no human being can put you in hell. It happens after death, and if God doesn’t exist (as you assert), then… it doesn’t happen at all. So why are you complaining about something which has no relevance for you?

    (iiic) Regarding “kill all the dirty kuffar”, this indeed would be a threat of physical violence, and therefore this is where I stop and I demand a single iota of evidence from you that the Qur’an says “kill all the dirty kuffar”.

    Where does the Qur’an say “kill all the dirty kuffar”?
    I repeat: Where does the Qur’an say “kill all the dirty kuffar”?
    One more time: Where does the Qur’an say “kill all the dirty kuffar”?

    I’m not going to let this one go. You need to answer this one before we continue.

    Peace,
    Moosa

  113. Dear Red Star,

    I note your non-constructive question “how obtuse are you going to be?” and your sudden departure from “ridiculing the ridiculous” to presenting this as a satire of transubstantiation and Muhammad (pboh) as an “incidental character”. I also note your apparent sympathy for marxism. I will deal with these soon with great pleasure, however first things first. Let’s go back to where I left off.

    14. Red Star argued: “I’ll address your other points later”.

    14. Moosa’s response: I’m still waiting for you to deal with my other points. At the end of this exercise, I will list all the points which you haven’t answered.

    15. Red Star’s argument: “The second point I would make is that, no, I would not call for it to be removed. I would simply ignore it. If the cartoon is of a deceased person, the deceased person cannot possibly receive any harm from it. I may find it painful, but then I find looking at images of Margaret Thatcher painful. Instead of calling for either to be removed, I exercise my full right to ignore them completely.
    Moreover, I make the same point as I did to Tauseef Khan and Moosa. Many consider religion to be offensive. Non-Ahmadis take offence at the picture of Mirza Ghulam Ahmad. Christians would take offence at the picture of Jesus’ tomb in Srinagar. Both would take offence at the constant repition by Ahmadis that Jesus is dead. Does that mean they are within their rights to tell you to take down all pictures, withdraw all arguments and stop all discourse related to these matters?
    Just because someone finds something offensive is not ENOUGH of a reason to censor it”.

    15. Moosa’s response: You seem to be confusing three different ideas here, Red Star. First, a cartoon mocking a [dead] person. Second, a belief in itself, for instance considering that religion (or atheism) is offensive. Third, a picture of a person, for instance a photograph of Mirza Ghulam Ahmad (pboh). Fourth, a belief or an idea or a theory which has ideological consequences, for instance the idea that Jesus (pboh) is dead which has the consequence of challenging the christian doctrine of resurrection.

    Then on the basis of this confusion, you assert that it’s not within our rights to “tell you to take down all pictures, withdraw all arguments and stop all discourse related to these matters. Just because someone finds something offensive is not ENOUGH of a reason to censor it”.

    Red Star, your argument is so confused that it will take all my legal acumen to unravel it. Let me de-confuse things for you, point by point.

    (i) Nobody here is proposing the idea that you should “withdraw all arguments and stop all discourse”. We have repeatedly engaged with atheists in their arguments and we have never ever asked them to stop arguing with us. You know this. Why are you suggesting something which you know to be untrue?

    (ii) Our contention is that cartoons of mockery are NOT arguments, and they are offensive, therefore we advise you that it would be good-mannered for you to desist from them; however, we do not even “tell you to take down all pictures”, we only request and advise it.

    (iii) Then there is the matter of offensive things, which is quite different from the matter of argument. Offense is not the same as argument, and I need to state that clearly because you seem to be mixing everything together. However, even in the case of offensive cartoons or statements, we do not seek to “censor” something which is offensive. We merely advise again that civilised human beings should avoid being gratuituously offensive.

    (iv) Regarding the photograph of Mirza Ghulam Ahmad, you cannot compare a photograph with a cartoon. A photograph is an objective recording of a person’s image. A cartoon is drawn and constructed artificially, often with a non-objective purpose. Furthermore, Sunni muslims don’t find the photograph of Mirza Ghulam Ahmad offensive at all. They find his beliefs offensive. So I really don’t think his photograph is relevant to our discussion.

    (v) Then you bring up the idea that we are offending christians by saying that Jesus (pboh) is dead, that many of our beliefs offend others, and many of christian beliefs offend others, and therefore you argue that it’s impossible to satisfy everybody and avoid offense altogether. Again, you seem to be wilfully ignoring what we are saying: Yes, of course offense is an unavoidable corollary of having a belief, every belief is going to offend the non-believer, however we are not requesting that you offend nobody, we are only requesting that you do not deliberately and gratuitously offend by mocking a religion without any intellectual argument.

    I hope you appreciate that I’m going to great effort to unravel your arguments. Sarah (my wife) has advised me that this is probably a waste of time and effort, but I did give you my word, so I’ll continue.

    Peace,
    Moosa

  114. “You will find book upon book written by Ahmadi Muslims which likewise criticise Muslim leaders of the past, particularly during the modern era.”

    Can you point me to such books and who are the leaders criticised? I hope they’re not just ones who’ve picked on Ahmadis (like Bhutto and Zia of Pakistan)…

    I am perfectly willing to retract my statement if I find that Ahmadis are indeed capable of criticising and acknowledging the mistakes of THEIR OWN LEADERSHIP and founding personages.

  115. Marx didn’t seem to have been able to predict the utter collapse of communism in such a short time.

    Also, his basic flaw was to presume that men with base instincts would ever be able to equitably share out wealth, of their own pure volition, among other men with base instincts. The inevitable and utter corruption of the ruling class set in immediately and continues in Russia today. The system could only have worked if the leaders were moral beings. But without religion, they lacked any proper incentive to be good to others. As a result, millions were killed within a few years of communists seizing power in Russia alone, far more than all the victims who ever died because of misapplication of religion in the entire history of mankind. Add to those the millions who died in communist China, and it will show how wrong Marx was when he thought communism was a good thing for mankind. It was bound to fail miserably leaving horrendous suffering in its wake, and it did.

    Compare the luxuries that the ruling communist party members have cunningly contrived to live in at the expense of the masses with the way the Holy Prophet of Islam (on whom be peace) spent his life. When death came to him, he was living in a mud-brick hut, sleeping on a coarse palm-fibre mattress that left deep marks on his skin when he lay on it, and there was nothing in his house but the mattress and a small water container. Seeing him in this state made his followers cry. They tried to get him to include even basic luxuries in his life, but he preferred to live like the poorest of the poor.

    He had seen how God’s word had been fulfilled thousands of times during his life, and had thus no doubt at all that the next life would be exactly as God had promised: far, far better than life on earth. His sights were therefore set on the afterlife and he had little concern for his personal comfort on earth, preferring to look after the comfort of others.

    Through his lasting and living spiritual legacy, today we too are seeing God’s word fulfilled all the time. And we are all striving to live as simply as possible, teaching our children to care more about removing the sufferings of others than to worry about their own petty desires. But we are far behind that absolute model of selfless sacrifice, the Holy Prophet Muhammad (peace be on him).

    This is one of the many reasons we love him so much.

  116. ” Communism didn’t even survive 100 years, it’s a failed and discredited system.”

    Read ‘Why Marx Was Right’ by Terry Eagleton and also have a look at what’s going on with Capitalism today, and then try saying that…

    Marx looked at the EVIDENCE of history and (correctly) predicted how human economics and politics and indeed society would evolve. No divine revelation required. And even better, his works are not ‘infallible’ and can be challenged, improved, reviewed, edited, and even mocked (without anyone threatening ‘behead all who insult Marx’ as a result). 🙂

  117. “By the way, you were writing earlier about “coercion, indoctrination and oppression”… what do you think of Stalin, Mao and Kim II-sung in this regard?”

    Yep, they were just as bad as the Muslims who do this. Difference is, I am happy and willing to admit that and learn from those awful events and you aren’t…

  118. How obtuse are you going to be?

    The cartoon, as I have already said, is a reference to the Christian belief in transubstantiation. That Mo is there is almost incidental – the whole purpose of the cartoon series to show Jesus and Mo debating Christian and Islamic beliefs with each other and religion per se with the non-visible barmaid. It’s a satirical tool. Mo isn’t even the subject of this particular cartoon in this regard.

    In any event, even if ALL of your complaints about this cartoon were true (which they’re not), people still have the right to create and publish such cartoons. What you think of them is irrelevant – that IS the point. Just as religionists can create and publish works which non-religionists might find utterly pointless, absurd or even offensive, so does everyone else have the right to do the same.

    ““Comrades, the cult of the individual acquired such monstrous size chiefly because Stalin himself, using all conceivable methods, supported the glorification of his own person. . . . One of the most characteristic examples of Stalin’s self-glorification and of his lack of even elementary modesty is the edition of his Short Biography, which was published in 1948

    Well, all this does is prove my point! The USSR ADMITTED Stalin’s errors and MOVED ON from them. This is something Islam could never do with regards to Muhammad (because he was supposedly ‘perfect’) and Ahmadis can never do with regards to their Khalifas (because they’re ‘divinely appointed’ and ‘divinely guided’). Show me a place where Ahmadis have written the same about Muhammad or Mirza Ghulam Ahmad or their Khalifas?

    This reference is solid evidence that Communists understand that they are HUMAN BEINGS capable of making MISTAKES and are also sage enough to ACKNOWLEDGE these and MAKE THEMSELVES BETTER. This is something most religionists are incapable of doing.

  119. It’s a basic principle of free speech: if you do not defend the offensive, then there is no meaning to ‘freedom of speech’ – if you can only say things that are popular, or acceptable to others, your speech is not meaningfully free.
    The only limit to this which is commonly subjected in the modern West is that speech which directly incites violence on the grounds of race, religion and other categories is restricted.

    In the case of a cartoon which does not incite violence, there is no legal case to answer, which I think has been generally accepted.

    The question does of course arise of whether there is a moral case to answer. And the clear answer is: no.
    There is no moral obligation on me to follow a purely religious dictate of a religion I do not follow. The injunction against depicting Mohammed can only apply to Muslims; any attempt to insist otherwise is an attempt to enforce Islamic rules and norms of behaviour on others.
    To accept that a stranger has a right to dictate my behaviour based upon his interpretation of his religion is an abdication of all freedom; because every behaviour has been condemned by some religion, some time.
    Drawing, and publishing, and re-publishing depictions of Mohammed is one way to show that those who support a secular society will not accept religious demands over-riding open expression, especially since self-professed Muslims are the ones most often using violence or other threats to try to shut down speech at the moment (as shown here: http://www.secularism.org.uk/blog/2012/01/freedom-of-expression-under-threat-by-violent-extremists for example).

  120. Dear Red Star,

    13. Moosa’s response: Did I hear you say that the communist regimes didn’t claim infallibility? Perhaps you need to acquaint yourself with Nikita Kruschev’s evaluation of Stalin in his speech to the 20th congress in 1956:

    “Comrades, the cult of the individual acquired such monstrous size chiefly because Stalin himself, using all conceivable methods, supported the glorification of his own person. . . . One of the most characteristic examples of Stalin’s self-glorification and of his lack of even elementary modesty is the edition of his Short Biography, which was published in 1948.
    This book is an expression of the most dissolute flattery, an example of making a man into a godhead, of transforming him into an infallible sage, “the greatest leader,” “sublime strategist of all times and nations.” Finally no other words could be found with which to lift Stalin up to the heavens.
    We need not give here examples of the loathsome adulation filling this book. All we need to add is that they all were approved and edited by Stalin personally and some of them were added in his own handwriting to the draft text of the book.”

    Chairman Mao was also regarded by his contemporaries in China as infallible. I won’t go further, unless you continue to try to hold up communism as a useful alternative to religion. Communism didn’t even survive 100 years, it’s a failed and discredited system. North Korea is trying to hold the flag, but of course in North Korea the little school children still thank Kim II-sung for all blessings (turning a man into a god).

    By the way, you were writing earlier about “coercion, indoctrination and oppression”… what do you think of Stalin, Mao and Kim II-sung in this regard? This seems inconsistent, for you to focus exclusively on the wrongs of religion but listing all the good achievements of communism. I think that a person loses intellectual credibility when he argues inconsistently.

    I’m still waiting for your response to my response number 12.

    Peace,
    Moosa

  121. Back from the hospital, I’ve actually decided to deal with your recent point now because I think it cuts to the heart of the matter, before I go back to where I left off and resume my responses…

    12. Red Star’s argument: “Here’s were we don’t agree. Ridiculing the ridiculous is not the sign of a ‘debased and unthoughtful mind’ but rather a very necessary step with people can’t seem to see just how ridiculous something is.”

    12. Moosa’s response:

    (i) Firstly, you’re making an assumption that religion is ridiculous. I don’t agree with your assumption, until you prove that religion is ridiculous. Obviously for a large part of humanity, religion isn’t ridiculous. Many thousands of millions of people gain something meaningful from their religion, which holds value even if it cannot be measured in a laboratory. To argue that religion is ridiculous because it cannot be evaluated scientifically, is as foolish as to argue that love is ridiculous because you can’t weigh love or measure love.

    (ii) But more than this, on the basis of this assumption, you’re saying that if something is ridiculous, then it’s a “necessary step” to ridicule it. How is that the case? How is mockery a valid argument against anything?
    The Appeal to Ridicule is not an argument, it’s a fallacy in which ridicule or mockery is substituted for evidence in an “argument.” This sort of “reasoning” is fallacious because mocking a claim does not show that it is false. This is especially clear in the following example: “1+1=2! That’s the most ridiculous thing I have ever heard!”
    In other words, you may ridicule anything. You can ridicule the sun and the moon if you wish, but it doesn’t make the sun and moon ridiculous. Therefore ridiculing religion doesn’t per se show that religion is ridiculous. So what’s the point? What’s your real objective?

    (iii) Furthermore, ridicule isn’t even effective. How many muslims or christians have responded to your ridicule by throwing up their hands and saying, “You know what? You’re absolutely right! Our religions are ridiculous! Thanks for showing us the light by ridiculing us!” Nobody has done this, therefore again, ridicule is not a useful methodology.

    (iv) Furthermore, it’s important to note that this particular cartoon wasn’t satire, it was pure mockery. In satire, vices and shortcomings are held up to ridicule, ideally with the intent of shaming individuals, and society itself, into improvement. But your cartoon isn’t doing any of this. Firstly, it’s depicting Muhammad (pboh) in a pub drinking “something”, which is something he never did. It would be satire if muslims were alcoholics, but it’s not satire because it’s talking about a vice which doesn’t exist in Islam. And secondly, regarding Islam’s relationship with alcohol, that is a particularly poor subject for atheists to “satirise”, since (if anything) it’s the drinking of alcohol in western societies which leads to increased incidence of violence, crime, psychiatric illness, addiction,liver failure, cerebral dysfunction, and countless other woes. So if anything, it should be muslims satirising the atheists for drinking alcohol, this is clearly an example of how an islamic society is far better than an atheist society. Therefore your cartoon is certainly not satire, because it has no positive constructive message for society.

    (v) So in the end, what are we left with? Why are you ridiculing when (a) ridicule is a fallacy, not a true argument, (b) ridicule doesn’t prove that the object of ridicule is ridiculous, (c) ridicule is not effective, (d) ridicule is not satire?
    My personal impression is that the Atheists simply put up the cartoon as a cheap jibe to try to provoke some sort of reaction from the muslims who were members of the UCL Atheist group or else if not deliberately provocative, then at the very least it was some sort of gesture of hopeless frustration: “we can’t actually come up with a logical argument to stop these people believing, therefore let’s just mock them!”. That’s not constructive and causes offense gratuitously, it serves no useful purpose either intellectually or socially.

    Red Star, as I think that your argument 12 and my response are particularly important, I request that you give a considered reply before I move on to all your other arguments.

    Peace,
    Moosa

  122. Are you ever going to stop equating ISLAM with MUSLIMS? When I said: “We have plenty of evidence that shows that the Islamic way of life is one conducive to peace and happiness at every level…”, only someone with such a tiresome habit could possibly think I meant that “the Islamic way of life” = “Muslim countries”.

    That’s what Hand of Talha was trying to bring home to you. If you continue to equate Islam with Muslim countries, we could also start equating atheism with atheist countries. Hence the question: If the atheistic way of life is so much more conducive to peace and happiness, why aren’t you living in a self-proclaimed atheistic society? But that subtlety was unfortunately lost on you…

    What you could have asked was: “Surely you can’t mean life in Muslim countries…so what exactly do you mean?”

    And then I would have gladly answered that valid question.

    What you said about Russia versus the USSR was utterly irrelevant; Russia didn’t declare after the breakup of the USSR that it is henceforth enshrining Christian values in its constitution. It has decided to increasingly turn to capitalism rather than hardline communism, and it is doing so without wanting to add the “so help me God” clause. I will take my chances and say that this point will probably also be lost on you. No offence, but it’s your unfortunate habit of jumping to conclusions that prevents you from responding rationally to what you read.

    Yes, in modern times, so-called Christian countries enjoy greater overall peace and happiness than so-called Musoim ones. If you think that is due to a relative superiority of Gospel teaching as opposed to Qur’anic teaching, then you are very wrong, but you are entitled to hold that opinion if it helps you to sleep better at night. The present state of affairs is due to many complex social and political issues, not the least of which is the disregard to the sciences which appeared among Muslim political leaders around the same time that Christian Europe began to awake to them. The Muslims who had been at the forefront of supporting and promoting the flourishing of Science, thereafter slipped into a state of stagnation from which they have not yet recovered. This is entirely due to their neglecting the Qur’anic injunctions promoting the furtherance of science and not to any restrictions on science in Islam. Such restrictions do NOT exist in the Qur’an except on genetic modification – changing the creation of God, because of the inherent dangers such meddling carries.

    So, once again we find you blaming ISLAM for the exact opposite of what Islam calls for. Your blind hatred of Islam is preventing you from studying it rationally and honestly. Doesn’t that bother you? It is scary to think that leading scientists could also be behaving like that. Jumping to conclusions is anathema to Science.

    If you hate fanaticism in religion, try not to be a fanatic yourself in your treatment of Islam. You would do good to remind yourself of your value number 3: “First remove the plank from thine own eye before criticising the mote in thy neighbour’s eye”.

    So, you need to stop equating cars with speeding, money with spending, Islam with Muslims. When a driver dies speeding, you can’t blame the car. When a gambler wastes his life savings, you can’t blame money. And when Muslims neglect the beautiful teachings of Islam and as a result mess up their society, you can’t blame Islam.

    Please try to stop jumping to conclusions. Thank you.

  123. ‘”Both in EU law, under ”The Treaty,” and under UK constitutional law, we operate within a system based on shared Christian values. So, please also name me atheist societies which ‘peace and happiness’ at every level.”

    Please find one place where I asserted that there was an ‘atheist society’ with ‘peace and happiness’ at every level? That was the claim an Ahmadi Muslim made for Islamic society.

    Also, I asked if these so-called ‘Christian’ values contravened any of the secular rights I have been discussing? If they don’t, then your point is irrelevant.

    I think on closer examination that these ‘shared Christian values’ you are referring to have very little to do with religion, and can be find among rational, progressive people everywhere.

    These are values such as:

    1) “Let him who is without sin cast the first stone”

    2) “Judge not lest ye be judged”

    3) “First remove the plank from thine own eye before criticising the mote in thy neighbour’s eye”

    So, basically, don’t be a hypocrite, don’t judge the way other people live unless you are willing for them to judge the way you live. There’s nothing much RELIGIOUS about these values. They are RATIONAL and FAIR and HONEST.

    What isn’t irrelevant, however, is the fact that you seem to be saying that societies based on Christian values ARE more peaceful and happier than those based on Muslim ones…which is rather odd, coming from a Muslim.

    No doubt Christian theology is daft, but there are at least some redeeming features to some ‘Christian’ teachings (ok, maybe just a couple).

    As regards ‘Russia’, I assume you were referring to the USSR, which has not existed for 20 years, but I guess you guys are a bit behind the times – or perhaps you reckon it’ll be back ;-), and China – both of these countries achieved an immensely greater amount of progress than any Muslim (or Christian) countries of the modern era. Rapid industrialisation, high literacy rates, universal education, public healthcare (free for all in USSR), low (in case of USSR zero) unemployment, first satellite in space (USSR), first man in space (USSR), social, political and employment equality for men and women (something neither the Islamic world nor the West has thus far achieved) and pulling hundreds of millions of people out of poverty.

    It can be argued that this was done at a horrible cost, but unlike RELIGIONS, the people responsible didn’t claim divine authority or that they had a ‘perfect’ system or that they were ‘infallible’. It is this intransigence and refusal to accept mistakes, refusal to change, refusal to IMPROVE and PROGRESS which marks religion out, and of these Islam is the MOST ossified.

  124. Dear Red Star,

    I’ll respond to your latest reply in due time. For now, I want to continue responding to each of your arguments in turn, therefore I’ll start where I left off:

    11. Red Star’s argument: ““So have We made the practice of everyone to appear to be attractive in their view. Then their return will be to their Lord who will then inform them of what they had been really doing.(6:109)”
    Why does this not apply equally to you as it does to me?
    You might think making children pray or read the Qur’an doesn’t hurt them, indeed it might appear to be attractive in your eyes. To someone who doesn’t share your beliefs, however, it might appear to be coercion, indoctrination and oppression.”

    11. Moosa’s response: This Qur’anic verse does indeed apply equally to everybody, atheists and theists. In fact, we believe that God is the judge of what is right and wrong, and it may be that God will judge that atheists behaved better than theists in certain cases. For sure, theists have behaved abominably both historically and in the present-day. Each individual stands alone in his/her behaviour, and strangely… each individual thinks he/she is correct and everybody who differs is wrong. This is freedom of belief, and it reflects human intelligence. Regarding the specific instance of parenthood, obviously there comes a time in a child’s development when he/she starts to ask bigger questions about their purpose in life. In my case, that happened at about the age of 10. I asked my father and he told me his opinion. Coercion, indoctrination and oppression are behaviours, they’re nothing to do with a belief system. A person can freely enter Islam or he can be coerced into entering Islam, just as a person can freely enter Atheism or he can be coerced into entering Atheism. In fact, I heard that Richard Dawkins is planning to write a book for children to teach them that religion is absurd… so I can ask you: why does coercion not apply equally to you as it does to me?

    Regarding coercion, the Qur’an says:
    “But if they turn away, We have not sent thee (Muhammad) as a guardian over them. Thy duty is only to convey the Message.” [Qur’an 42:49]

    I have to accompany somebody to the hospital now. I’ll hopefully post again later this evening.

    Peace,
    Moosa

  125. Both in EU law, under ”The Treaty,” and under UK constitutional law, we operate within a system based on shared Christian values. So, please also name me atheist societies which ‘peace and happiness’ at every level.

  126. @ Moosa

    “Let me make it clear: we are calling for exactly the same thing in the UK and Pakistan and every other nation of the world… we are calling for freedom of intellectual debate (which is the sign of the elevated and philosophical mind)…”

    For once, we agree 🙂 (though I’m not quite sure what an ‘elevated’ mind is supposed to be…I think I know what you’re getting at, so I’ll let it pass!)

    “…but we are calling for people to voluntarily give up mockery (which is the sign of the debased and unthoughtful mind).”

    Here’s were we don’t agree. Ridiculing the ridiculous is not the sign of a ‘debased and unthoughtful mind’ but rather a very necessary step with people can’t seem to see just how ridiculous something is.

    I’ll address your other points later.

  127. “Similarly you do not live in China or Russia, but a state based on Christian teachings.”

    Russia?

    How precisely do I live in a state based on ‘Christian teachings’? And which of these teachings are you referring to? Do they contravene the rights valued by secularists?

    In any case, what has that got to do with the absurd claim that:

    “We have plenty of evidence that shows that the Islamic way of life is one conducive to peace and happiness at every level…”

    Which Muslim countries possess ‘peace and happiness’ at every level? Ok, I’ll let 5 go (heck, why not 10) which don’t – can you name even 3? Or actually, even 1?

  128. “We have plenty of evidence that shows that the Islamic way of life is one conducive to peace and happiness at every level, and that anarchist lifestyles and ideas are not.”

    That’ll be why you’re living in Pakistan then…or maybe you’re from Saudi Arabia, or Sudan? Oh wait… you don’t live in an Islamic country at all, do you? Odd…

    “the issue i have with Jesus and Mo is that Mo would not hold a glass of beer. if was diametrically opposed to it. you cannot show Jesus near a brothel for the same reason. it shows complete disrespect for fellow humans”

    1) Mo is not holding the glass

    2) How do you know it’s beer?

    3) Jesus did [deleted] with prostitutes (Mary Magdalene anyone) and taught the religious mobs of his time “He who is without sin should cast the first stone” and “Judge not lest ye be judged.”

  129. Dear Red Star,

    Forgive me for this tardy and brief reply. I’m commencing at 1.52 am and I have an Annual Review of Competence Progression early this morning, then Friday I commence a new job at Watford which will require me to leave home at 7am every day. However, I did say I’d answer all your points and I’ll make a brief start now, then continue tomorrow and over the weekend.

    A preliminary point: I’m not a philosopher or a muslim scholar. I’m reasonably educated in law and computers and medicine, and I’m very interested in islam since my childhood, but these are my personal thoughts, and like any human being I’m prone to error.

    Now Red Star, I think I answered your first 4 points, so let’s continue where I left off…

    5. Red Star’s argument: “And, I love the fact that Moosa is equating drawing a cartoon of two individuals who died centuries ago with racism and murdering black people…really pertinent analogy there, not.”

    5. Moosa’s response: Red Star, you’re misrepresenting me. I didn’t equate. Equate means saying the two things are the same. I didn’t do that. I didn’t even compare. You’ve taken my words completely out of context. The correct context is: you said atheists don’t ask for religious believers to retract their texts (implying therefore that freedom of speech should be absolute), I responded that what atheists ask for isn’t my criterion for what’s fair and right, and then I gave as a hypothetical example the situation where a black person might not ask us not to use racist language. My point was simply that: what people ask for isn’t relevant to what’s fair and right. The fact that you don’t ask us to not offend you doesn’t mean it’s fair and right to offend you. I nowhere said that drawing cartoons is like racism and murdering black people. I request you don’t misrepresent me again. If you do that again, then I’ll regard it as evidence that you’re not willing to engage in a genuine discussion, and I’ll simply ignore you.

    6. Red Star’s argument: “Drawing a cartoon doesn’t hurt people. In ANY way.”

    6. Moosa’s response: “Hurt” means to cause pain. Pain can be of many types, including emotional. Furthermore, political cartoons were used very effectively as propaganda tools during World War II and other wars. There are also racist political cartoons etc, so of course cartoons can hurt people. I accept that the cartoon itself doesn’t pick up a gun and shoot people, but (like any other medium of communication) it can convey a message which can influence people to treat each other negatively and ultimately even hurt each other physically. That doesn’t mean it should be banned, but it’s incorrect to say that a cartoon doesn’t hurt people.

    7. Red Star’s argument: “If by LOOKING AT A CARTOON, you are in some way emotionally hurt, then DON’T LOOK AT IT!”

    7. Moosa’s response: I already replied to this. It wasn’t on a closed Facebook page. It was on a page of a Facebook community which had several muslim members. There was no warning that the cartoon was about to go up, it simply went up. Before this, that Facebook community was a place where atheists and muslims could have an intellectual dialogue regarding atheism, there was no indication or warning that cartoon mockery was about to ensue. Subsequent to the cartoon going up, several muslims (including myself) have indeed left membership of that Facebook atheist community.

    8. Red Star’s argument: “It isn’t the same as calling someone a racist name or physically injuring somebody, is it?”

    8. Moosa’s response: Of course it’s not the same. I never said it was the same. I never equated them. You misrepresented me, I never said this. Nobody here has suggested that drawing the cartoons is like physically injuring somebody. We’ve merely said the cartoons are offensive.

    9. Red Star’s argument: “Who are you to dictate to people what they can or cannot draw or display? It’s the same as dictating what people can or cannot write or publish.”

    9. Moosa’s response: Red Star, please give us one quotation where the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community have “dictated what you can or cannot draw”? The Ahmadiyya Muslim Community has expressly and repeatedly acknowledged that you have a legal right to draw (and write and publish) whatsoever you like, and they only requested that it would be more polite if you don’t mock Muhammad (pboh) because mockery is below the nobility which should characterise a good human being. I personally added a proviso (not added officially by the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community) that obviously a government can curb media communication where it threatens public order.

    10. Red Star’s argument: “How is what you are calling for different from the Muslims who take ‘offence’ at Ahmadi literature being penned, published and disseminated in Pakistan? You have very different views on that, though, don’t you?”

    10. Moosa’s response: No, we don’t have very different views, we have completely identical views in all situations and all countries. Ahmadis in Pakistan aren’t being persecuted because they have drawn cartoons deliberately mocking holy or sacred persons in the Sunni muslim population, we’re being persecuted merely for saying, “We are muslims”. The most we have ever done is put forward our case intellectually, we have never mocked. And the present-day situation is even worse, because now we’re not being persecuted even for our intellectual arguments, now we can be legally incarcerated in Pakistan simply for saying, “We are muslims”. If you want to equate, then the only equation would be if we proposed atheists should be incarcerated simply for saying, “We are atheists”.
    Let me make it clear: we are calling for exactly the same thing in the UK and Pakistan and every other nation of the world… we are calling for freedom of intellectual debate (which is the sign of the elevated and philosophical mind) but we are calling for people to voluntarily give up mockery (which is the sign of the debased and unthoughtful mind).

    It’s now 2.46am, I must leave now, I hope to continue soon, God willing.

    Peace,
    Moosa

  130. the issue i have with Jesus and Mo is that Mo would not hold a glass of beer. if was diametrically opposed to it. you cannot show Jesus near a brothel for the same reason. it shows complete disrespect for fellow humans

  131. My dear, there you go off again on a tangent. We truly hate the behaviour of many of you – those of you who seek to deprive people of their right to live in peace, of their right to freedom from mockery, of their right to a wholesome, friendly society, full of goodwill and respect. But we DO NOT hate the propounders of such negative ideas.

    I thought you had understood that by now. In Islam, we hate the crime, not the criminal.

    So yes, Love for all, Hatred for none.

    To: “Do I sense any dismay here? Indignation? Are you upset by what I wrote?”, you wrote: “Not at all.”

    Yet in your outburst, you said: “just look at what you have just written. Look at the kind of judgements your religion causes you to pass over other human beings. Look at the sheer venom and hate you are filled with…”

    “Just look at…Look at…Look at…”

    That didn’t sound like an unruffled person to me. Clearly, when the tables are turned on you, and you get a taste of the blanket judgments you guys like to pass on all things Islamic, you did not like it at all. And you have already shown how you have the unfortunate habit of passing blanket judgments: anything I say is automatically declared by you to be “my religion” and to be shared by all Ahmadi Muslims.

    There is a way and a place to express things you disagree with. Satire on loved ones is NOT the way. Discussion in a free and friendly atmosphere IS. Lampooning and satire breed hatred, mistrust, suspicion and anger. On the other hand discussion illuminates the mind, clears the air, and removes suspicion. The thing which produces the best results will logically be the best course to follow.

    The teachings of our religion tell us to inform people where they go wrong and to praise them and support them where they are doing things right. That’s what we do. If you don’t like it, you are free to debate the benefits or harm caused by Islamic restrictions on life in society. We have plenty of evidence that shows that the Islamic way of life is one conducive to peace and happiness at every level, and that anarchist lifestyles and ideas are not.

    We’ve already shown that we are fighting for the abolition of Shari’a as interpreted by most Islamic scholars today. We are united with those who are trying to give back people their rights under any law on earth.

    But we will not stand back and let misguided individuals or groups threaten world peace with their behaviour, words and writings, unchallenged. Just as extremist Muslims say they are fighting for truth and peace – their understanding of truth and peace – many hardcore atheists say they are fighting for truth and peace – again, their interpretation of truth and peace. What both groups often fail to see is that their “peace” and their “truth” mean suffering, and often death for others who do not agree with them.

    “In your face” atheism is just as ugly to us as is religious fanaticism. We invite atheists to be honest and respectful, and to discuss in an academic fashion, instead of constantly heaping ridicule on others’ philosophies and ways of life, as you have done here.

    Once again, the consumerist, materialistic, godless, selfish aspects of the Western way of life you so cherish, are on the brink of destruction. You had better find a more durable alternative – and fast.

  132. “Do I sense any dismay here? Indignation? Are you upset by what I wrote?”

    Not at all.

    In fact I’m really pleased that you finally revealed what Ahmadi Muslims ACTUALLY think about other people by telling the truth for once. (So much for ‘Love for all, Hatred for none’ lol)

    Whether I disagree with what you say, or if I find it repulsive, is irrelevant. All that matters is that people have the right to express what they actually believe honestly and openly.

    By actually saying what you really think, we can all see the true teachings of your religion.

  133. @Red Star:

    Do I sense any dismay here? Indignation? Are you upset by what I wrote?

    Now you can see that there ARE things that would better be left unwritten.

    EVERYONE has sensitivities. And you’ve just shown that atheists are no exception, my dear. Clearly, I just hit a nerve. You don’t seem to be able to close your eyes to that now, do you? Yet you want us to close our eyes to all the filth being piled on our Prophet (peace and blessings of God be upon him).

    It is not particularly my religion that causes me to pass such “judgments” on people who attack Islam in vile ways. I can show you what people who oppose Islam tooth and nail themselves say on how they would like to live their lives. Anarchy is a prominent feature of it all. Many of them do not want to be told how to behave in ways that are beneficial and kind to society – they prefer to be free to behave like selfish children. So, there is no way out but to fight anything that seems religious. They end up throwing out the baby with the bathwater.

    As for your “TRUTH”, that is prone to subjectivity, depending on who is talking about it. You will need to come back with something far more tangible. We would all like you to see some truth too. Like the truth of what real effects many of your ideas and some of the ways of life you fight for, are having on Western society and economies, for instance.

  134. @handoftalha

    “Too general. You need to be more specific.”

    To whom are you speaking, and what are you talking about?

  135. @ Moosa

    “Red star, you’re finally entering into a dialogue with me so i will reply to all ur points over nxt couple of days. Don’t have computer access at the moment, texting from fone.”

    Thanks. Look forward to it 🙂

    @peace4everynation

    You ask me “What I hate about Islam” – just look at what you have just written. Look at the kind of judgements your religion causes you to pass over other human beings. Look at the sheer venom and hate you are filled with. Are these the blessings of the ‘religion of peace’??? There is only ONE thing I hold sacred: THE TRUTH. And I would be ecstatic if you could finally get round to ‘scrutinise’ that…

  136. Bringing mothers andf sisters into the discussion was by way of argument only, and there was and is no offence intended. After all, isn’t the logo “Nothing is sacred”? Let’s see how they react when what they hold sacred is under scrutiny. I am quite tired of this beating about the bush and of their not coming to what is really bothering them about Islam. It’s time they were honest with themselves in order to avert what is heading towards the West at an ever-increasing speed.

  137. Red star, you’re finally entering into a dialogue with me so i will reply to all ur points over nxt couple of days. Don’t have computer access at the moment, texting from fone. Pls let’s continue dialogue rather than each side throwing out accusations ay the other. Everybody else, pls calm down and discuss issues rather than making it personal. It’s discourteous to bring Red star’s sister, mother etc into this disagreement.

  138. Red Star: You haven’t answered a single one of the points I raised. It’s like I’ve been talking to a wall.

    Your reading of Qur’anic statements is – shockingly – less than basic, and your deep disrespect and disregard for anything that doesn’t seem to immediately conform to your little world and the rules you and your like-minded frends have been making up as you go along is patently blinding you to profound rational truths and philosophies that enrich the lives of billions of other people. The rules you have all made up are to do nothing else than safeguard your irresponsible desire to be able to act in any way you please without being called to account.

    How can one even begin to explain the meanings of “mountains as pegs” to someone who essentially goes “Mountains as pegs!!! NAH nah nah NAH nah!!!”?

    To us, it is like trying to explain physics to a 3-year-old.

    At the end of the day, you will always hate Islam, because Islam tells you you can’t sleep with anyone or anything you like just because you want to, no more than you can abduct anyone or steal anything you like just because you want to.

    You don’t understand the profound benefits to society that such restrictions on some of your non-essential freedoms bring so that the essential freedoms of others are preserved.

    You and your ilk are selfish, self-centered and irresponsible, and you will continue to attack from every angle any law that gets in the way of your selfish enjoyment. You may claim that you are attacking irrationality – and indeed there is a lot of irrationality in vogue among many believers (and also atheists, as we have seen in their thoroughly irrational refusal to stop lampooning, even though lampooning and satirical cartoons have opened the way to ethnic cleansing and genocide several times in the past) – but in fact, it is not the perceived irrationality you hate most, is it?

    What you hate most is that your petty non-essential freedoms will be curbed by Islam, such as your “right” to have sex with anything other than your partner in marriage, your “right” to insult, your “right” to dress like a prostitute, and the list goes on. Islam will indeed curb all such pseudo-rights, and rightly so, so that the essential, basic rights of others may be preserved.

    Therefore, you, as an irresponsible, selfish person, who thinks his or her non-essential rights are worth far more than the essential, basic rights of other people, will NEVER cease to fight Islam, however beneficial its teachings may be to society and civilisation as a whole.

    Soon when the ecenomic collapse befalls the UK, Europe, the US and other Western nations, suddenly all your petty, non-essential rights AND your basic rights will be snatched away from you, as retribution for the selfishness and blind egotism bordering on absolute callousness to the sufferings of others that these nations have maintained during the past few centuries.

    It is all coming to a head, and YET you fight on for what you do not really need, denying others what they need to survive.

    Hopefully, you will soon realise the absurdity and recklessness of your petty struggles, and will return to decent, kind behaviour that will make you more deserving of survival, before it is too late.

  139. “So if you have a political, philosophical or ideological reason to draw cartoons of them, that makes it ok? Well, how about someone draws indecent cartoons of your mother for the reason that she has spawned a pro-cartoonist of the Holy Prophet (pbuh)? That can easily be invoked as an ideological reason. Cartoonists can ALWAYS find a political, philosophical or ideological reason. But the easiest reason of all is: “I invoke my RIGHT TO FREEDOM OF EXPRESSION to draw a cartoon of whomsoever I please in whatever way I please”. After that, what other reason would you need? That is the very reason called upon by these indecent cartoonists today. ”

    Fine, cartoon away! What’s the problem? If you don’t like it, don’t look at it.

    “We can show non-Ahmadis from their own writings and habits that having pictures, whether of Hadrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad (pbuh) or of anyone else, with a specific purpose is well within the laws of Islam. And we can show the Christians that according to their own scriptures, Jesus (pbuh) did NOT die on the cross in Palestine. That is an intellectual debate, which has nothing to do with Jesus (pbuh) and Muhammad (pbuh) drinking in a bar. Can YOU show us from our scriptures where this ever occurred? I think not. So yours is not an intellectual debate. Your intention is to shock and hurt, and make fun of what is held sacred by billions of people.”

    Basically, it’s ok when you do it, but not when anyone does it to you…

    If you look at the series of Jesus and Mo cartoons, you can see they raise ‘intellectual debate’ – they do this through something called satire (yes that requires a sense of humour, which you do not seem to possess). This particular cartoon was poking fun at the silly Christian (Catholic) belief that bread and wine literally turn into the body and blood of Christ (‘transubstantiation’). Other cartoons have brought to light errors in the Qur’an (mountains are ‘pegs’ which ‘stop the earth from shaking’ etc) as well as the obsession with gaining converts and one upmanship in this regard between religions (‘we have tens of millions of followers in 200 countries blah blah blah).

    But seeing all of this would involve you getting past your ‘I’m so shocked and hurt because two guys are sitting at a bar’ reaction.

  140. “I didn’t say that I’m qualified to decide what constitutes public order. In the UK, the government executive makes that decision in the light of legislative guidance and controlled by judicial review. In specific circumstances, more localised institutions make that decision; for instance, University College London may prohibit public statements by its member societies if it feels these statements may cause disorder in the student community. The member societies would then have to seek judicial redress if they disagreed with the decision of UCL.”

    WRONG! The UCL has already apologised for asking the society to take down the picture as it had NO LEGAL RIGHT to do so! If you want them to take it down, why don’t YOU take them to court and see what the legislature makes of the situation.

    And I reiterate, in Pakistan the ‘government executive’ decided that Ahmadiyyat was a ‘threat to public order’ and therefore censored them: was that the right thing to do?

    “I await your acceptance that free speech is not an absolute right, then we can proceed.”

    If it isn’t, then what right to Ahmadis have to whinge about their treatment in Pakistan?

    I have already quite clearly stated that INCITEMENT to hatred and violence are usually legislated against, and rightly so.

    If you mean in that respect that free speech is “not an absolute right”, then fine. What I would say is that there is a difference between threatening to thump someone or blatantly lying (which would be subject to slander and libel legislation) and expressing your honest views (i.e. that which we call ‘free speech’). If you can’t see the distinction, then I’m sorry for your obtuseness.

    Is the cartoon of Jesus and Mo an INCITEMENT TO HATRED OR VIOLENCE?

    Moreover, many argue that there are statements in the Qur’an which ARE incitement to hatred and violence. Should they therefore be censored/removed?

  141. @Sam:
    No offence, but everything you just spewed out was nothing but the usual ignorant drivel we keep hearing from atheists and other anti-islamists. It appears you have been informed about the actions of certain MUSLIMS, but have been cruelly misinformed about ISLAM.

    Islam does NOT abuse women’s rights – some people who claim to be MUSLIMS do.

    The ideology which creates terrorists and radicals is not Islamic ideology. Extremists can call their ideology “Islamic” all they like, but even a child can prove that it is totally political and has nothing to do with Islam. In line with your argument, we could say that atheism is the ideology which caused the death of millions under the atheist regimes of Stalin, Mao and Pol Pot. These terrorist regimes were certainly proclaiming loud and clear that they were atheistic. Will you abandon atheism for having spawned such horrendously criminal movements and regimes?

    Muslims are nowhere told in the Holy Qur’an to take part in a bloody war against disbelievers – they are only to DEFEND themselves against those who are the first to attack. Muslim leaders calling to the sickening “holy wars” you speak of have nothing to do with the Qur’an, and they don’t give a hoot about its true teachings.

    Our women are FREE to dress as they please – and they CHOOSE to dress modestly and to cover up their beauty from strangers. They CHOOSE not to invite attention, and CHOOSE not to give out messages that they are available for sexual adventures. They CHOOSE to contribute neither to the breakup of marriages by enticing husbands away from their wives and nor to the suffering caused to children of broken homes. They CHOOSE not to contribute to the spread of sexually-transmitted diseases. They CHOOSE not to expose themselves to molestation by flashing their charms in front of sick individuals. They CHOOSE not to frequent bars where they can be exposed to drink-spiking and rape. In these ways, they CHOOSE to live safer lives and to dress in ways that are not threatening to the peace and well-being of others.

    Ask our women whether anyone forces them to make these decisions.

    You should get your facts straight before you accuse ISLAM for what misguided INDIVIDUALS do in blatant contravention of the beautiful teachings of Islam.

  142. How do you explain Islam’s abuse of women’s rights – today? What about an ideology which creates terrorists and radicals? What about the holy war (jihad) that all Muslims are told to take part in against noon-believers? Why are your women not free to dress as they want and instead cover head to toe? Where is the freedom of choice?

  143. @Red Star

    You don’t seem to have understood the philosophy behind the Quranic teachings. The whole verse reads:

    “Do not abuse those whom they worship besides Allah, lest in retaliation they are driven to abuse Allah (the only true God). So have We made the practice of everyone to appear to be attractive in their view. Then their return will be to their Lord who will then inform them of what they had been really doing”

    It admonishes Muslims that they should not even abuse other religions gods because in retaliation they may abuse Allah. See how beautiful teaching this is. It does not say ‘if they don’t believe then abuse their gods’ but stops Muslims from abusing other deities at all. This will make sure that there is peace in the society, and the discourse remains civil, intellectual and meaningful. Otherwise it will spiral down into warring groups hurling abuse and at each other.

    The verse goes on to say that in their eyes their religion or belief is attractive to them, it says that a person has the right to believe in whatever he, but it also makes the point that it does to mean that the person would not be asked of what they believed in the hereafter. In summary one is allowed to believe in anything but one cannot escape the consequences of one’s belief in the hereafter.

    In words of Khalifatul Masih IV “the freedom of belief does not, in any way, override the principle of accountability. The right of freedom can be correctly understood only when it is coupled with this principle. If a group of mountaineers are told to follow whatever trail they may choose in whatever direction they please, but are also warned that some trails could lead them to the precipice of annihilation, they would certainly watch their steps with every caution at their command. Yet such daredevils as are blind to their own interest may altogether ignore the warning and exercise their right of freedom to their own ultimate destruction.”

    This is the meaning of freedom of faith and freedom of choice in the Quranic terms: There is no compulsion in religion. Surely, the right way has become distinct from error; so whosoever refuses to be led by those who transgress, and believes in Allah, has surely grasped a strong handle which knows no breaking. And Allah is All-Hearing, All-Knowing.

    All the same, the categoric prohibition to change another person’s faith by force does not deprive anyone of his right to change others through persuasive arguments and dialogues, so long as it is free from even a whisper of threat. Let alone permission, it is the bounden duty of every believer to invite mankind to the path of God with wisdom and goodly persuasion” (Revelation Rationality Knowledge and Truth)

    And this is what Ahmadis are doing on this blog.

  144. Red Star,

    I didn’t say that I’m qualified to decide what constitutes public order. In the UK, the government executive makes that decision in the light of legislative guidance and controlled by judicial review. In specific circumstances, more localised institutions make that decision; for instance, University College London may prohibit public statements by its member societies if it feels these statements may cause disorder in the student community. The member societies would then have to seek judicial redress if they disagreed with the decision of UCL.

    I merely said that free speech is not an absolute right, it is limited. The question is: how is it proper to limit it? If you’re happy to accept that free speech is not an absolute right, then I’ll proceed to reply to your other points. In turn, I expect you to respond to all of my points. Agreed?

    I await your acceptance that free speech is not an absolute right, then we can proceed.

    Peace,
    Moosa

  145. Erratum in the before-last paragraph in my last comment:

    “Finally, if you fail to see how making fun of the sacred leaders of entire nations does not lead to violence against such nations, then you need a wake-up call, my dear”

    I of course meant: “Finally, if you fail to see how making fun of the sacred leaders of entire nations LEADS to violence against such nations, then you need a wake-up call, my dear”

  146. @Red Star:
    You state: “No one could possibly have a political, philosophical or ideological reason for drawing a cartoon of them. This is the first distinction between your example and ‘Jesus and Mo’.”

    So if you have a political, philosophical or ideological reason to draw cartoons of them, that makes it ok? Well, how about someone draws indecent cartoons of your mother for the reason that she has spawned a pro-cartoonist of the Holy Prophet (pbuh)? That can easily be invoked as an ideological reason. Cartoonists can ALWAYS find a political, philosophical or ideological reason. But the easiest reason of all is: “I invoke my RIGHT TO FREEDOM OF EXPRESSION to draw a cartoon of whomsoever I please in whatever way I please”. After that, what other reason would you need? That is the very reason called upon by these indecent cartoonists today.

    It’s all very well for you to say that you could ignore your mother in indecent postures placarded onto the side of buses, in newspapers, on the Internet or on posters around town. What about if you have small children, or teenagers, having to put up with it? How will their lives be affected, what with the shame and all the teasing and bullying they will have to face at school because of it? It’s not reasonable to say you and your relatives would be able to simply close your eyes to all that daily shaming of your family. You will be able to tell only when it actually happens to you. Until then, your claim will remain unrealistic, and nothing but wishful thinking.

    People like Maryam Namazie have this logo boldly slapped across their blogs: “NOTHING is sacred.” Really? But then we find her speech: “Nothing is Sacred but the Human Being.” So, if the human being is sacred, how dare anyone lampoon that human being, thereby hurting the feelings of millions of other human beings. All the teasing Muslim children get at school and that Muslim students get at college and university, due to these cartoons, and the heartache billions of Muslims have to suffer when they see their beloved Prophet (pbuh) depicted in demeaning ways, why is nothing of that sacred to you? Do you really have no respect for them as human beings?

    You go on to say: “Non-Ahmadis take offence at the picture of Mirza Ghulam Ahmad. Christians would take offence at the picture of Jesus’ tomb in Srinagar. Both would take offence at the constant repition by Ahmadis that Jesus is dead. ”

    We can show non-Ahmadis from their own writings and habits that having pictures, whether of Hadrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad (pbuh) or of anyone else, with a specific purpose is well within the laws of Islam. And we can show the Christians that according to their own scriptures, Jesus (pbuh) did NOT die on the cross in Palestine. That is an intellectual debate, which has nothing to do with Jesus (pbuh) and Muhammad (pbuh) drinking in a bar. Can YOU show us from our scriptures where this ever occurred? I think not. So yours is not an intellectual debate. Your intention is to shock and hurt, and make fun of what is held sacred by billions of people.

    Then: “Now, if it INCITES hatred or violence (like saying Jews are pigs and monkeys, or you disbelievers are going to burn in hell, or kill all the dirty kuffar), then that’s a different matter. It’s DIFFERENT because it is a PHYSICAL THREAT of HARM to other human beings.”

    1. Do you even know what the Qur’an means when it calls corrupt religious clergy and their hyporitical followers apes and swine – Swine, because they are immoral and are slaves to their basest desires, and apes because they behave outwardly piously but are in fact hypocrites, so they are only aping or imitating true religious behaviour?
    2. Have you not seen where the Holy Qur’an says: THEY ARE NOT ALL ALIKE?
    3. Have you not seen that the Holy Qur’an praises the good individuals among the Jews, Christians, Muslims and others, and condemns their evil ones who hurt mankind? Do you really believe the Qur’an has preached blanket-condemnation of races or religions?
    4. The Qur’an has nowhere preached to kill all the dirty kuffar. That is only in your head. It preaches self-defence only against those who first attack us. How do you disagree with that principle?
    5. The threat of burning in hell-fire is for the afterlife, and I do not see how you find that constitutes a threat to society in on earth. Had it been a real threat, the democratic, pro-human rights governments of the West would have had the Qur’an banned decades ago. You guys really therefore stand out as hyper-emotional alarmists, and you are simply creating a storm in a teacup.

    My friend, you clearly have a lot more reading to do.

    Finally, if you fail to see how making fun of the sacred leaders of entire nations does not lead to violence against such nations, then you need a wake-up call, my dear. Many genocides started with such apparently harmless lampooning. When one people becomes accustomed to making fun of the leaders of other nations, those nations or races start to be seen as sub-human, and it is thought that if they can follow such “crass” leaders and like to live in such “inferior” civilisations, then they somehow deserve whatever befalls them. Next, the bombs start raining down on, and the bullets start flying through, their civilians, and their resources and wealth become fair game for the nations who had started the cartoons and lampooning in the first place.

    So, what you guys are upholding is exceedingly worrying. It is a real threat to world peace. Have you not seen how history repeats itself? We can see what has happened in recent world history, and we learn from it. It’s time you too became responsible citizens and started showing the world an example of best behaviour to be emulated by all.

  147. @ Moosa

    My point about the status of Ahmadis under the Blasphemy Law and Ordnance XX in Pakistan is in DIRECT RESPONSE to your utter nonsense about ‘Public Order’.

    In Pakistan, as Ahmadis shout very loudly about, your community is CENSORED because if you weren’t it is considered a ‘threat to public order’.

    Are you and your fellow Ahmadis now saying that this is a GOOD thing???

  148. BTW ‘Anonymous’ above was me, I just forgot to complete the name section before I posted. Apologies.

    Moosa, you say:

    “Red Star, I note your continued inability to respond to my first point regarding that freedom of speech can and should be limited for the public good, for public morals, etc, and that this fact is recognised in the UN Covention of Human Rights and many written constitutions.”

    Who are YOU to determine ‘public good’ and ‘public morals’. This is the essence of the problem. You are talking about something so ambiguous and subjective, that under this requirment anyone could justify censoring anything! And my points ARE indeed specifically addressing this very issue, so you can get on and answer them now!

    @ Aziz

    “As i understand from what you have outlined it is right to exercise a right in any circumstances.”

    That’s what a RIGHT is. Your right to breathe doesn’t go out the window because John Smith is offended by the sight of you!

    “Does this then mean you would also strongly support the action of an individual in expressing his freedom of expression if he were to stand at a memorial service for Holocaust victims wearing a SS uniform?”

    Yes. Just like Muslims Against Crusades have the right to burn poppies. I may DISAGREE with both actions, but that is no reason to prevent them from happening.

    It is nothing to do with STRONGLY SUPPORTING anything. If someone stood up ANYWHERE in an SS uniform, I’d rip them to shreds (by argument that is, not literally) as Nazism is diametrically opposed to my politics. But I would never challenge his RIGHT to stand there in that uniform, no.

  149. “@ Red Star:

    “Now, if it INCITES hatred or violence (like saying Jews are pigs and monkeys, or you disbelievers are going to burn in hell, or kill all the dirty kuffar), then that’s a different matter. It’s DIFFERENT because it is a PHYSICAL THREAT of HARM to other human beings.”

    Was this a cheeky jab at Muslims and Islam, since I see this argument come up alot on anti-Muslim websites”

    It wasn’t a cheeky jab, it was DEADLY serious. I don’t joke about things which involve people ACTUALLY getting hurt.

    It perhaps doesn’t apply to Ahmadis (except the 2nd example of disbelievers burning in hell), but certainly many other Muslims use this rhetoric in their mosques and madrassas throughout the world, and we are all witness to the harm it causes (the Ahmadi community no exception, considering what it suffers in Pakistan and Indonesia and the like).

  150. Dear Red Star. I have followed everyones comments. If i can put it in simple terms…..

    As i understand from what you have outlined it is right to exercise a right in any circumstances.

    Does this then mean you would also strongly support the action of an individual in expressing his freedom of expression if he were to stand at a memorial service for Holocaust victims wearing a SS uniform?

  151. Red Star, I note your continued inability to respond to my first point regarding that freedom of speech can and should be limited for the public good, for public morals, etc, and that this fact is recognised in the UN Covention of Human Rights and many written constitutions.

    When you’ve acknowledged this fact, or else provided an intelligent rebuttal, then I’ll proceed to respond to every single one of your further accusations, one by one, as I did previously above. However, it is not useful for me to continue to have a discussion with you when you ignore most of what I write and you throw out accusation after accusation without even considering what I’ve written or answering any of my questions.

    For your general information, I think the official position of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community is: the atheists have freedom of speech, there is no legal challenge to the cartoons, however the cartoons should be deplored as socially destructive and offensive to the religious feelings of the millions of British muslims who form part of this community.

    Regarding your specific points and criticisms, as I said, I’ll respond to them when you provide a meaningful response to what I’ve said, particularly to what I said in my first post in this thread.

    Peace,
    Moosa

  152. @ Red Star:

    “Now, if it INCITES hatred or violence (like saying Jews are pigs and monkeys, or you disbelievers are going to burn in hell, or kill all the dirty kuffar), then that’s a different matter. It’s DIFFERENT because it is a PHYSICAL THREAT of HARM to other human beings.”

    Was this a cheeky jab at Muslims and Islam, since I see this argument come up alot on anti-Muslim websites…

  153. “Red Star, just for the sake of argument, and with no disrespect intended, let’s say your grandmother, or mother, or sister, or daughter, is dead. Now let’s say someone starts drawing weekly cartoons of her performing lewd acts with a group of men. Now let’s say they put it on facebook.”

    My grandmother, mother, sister or daughter are not founders of major world religions which have political impacts on ALL of our lives.

    No one could possibly have a political, philosophical or ideological reason for drawing a cartoon of them. This is the first distinction between your example and ‘Jesus and Mo’.

    The second point I would make is that, no, I would not call for it to be removed. I would simply ignore it. If the cartoon is of a deceased person, the deceased person cannot possibly receive any harm from it. I may find it painful, but then I find looking at images of Margaret Thatcher painful. Instead of calling for either to be removed, I exercise my full right to ignore them completely.

    Moreover, I make the same point as I did to Tauseef Khan and Moosa. Many consider religion to be offensive. Non-Ahmadis take offence at the picture of Mirza Ghulam Ahmad. Christians would take offence at the picture of Jesus’ tomb in Srinagar. Both would take offence at the constant repition by Ahmadis that Jesus is dead. Does that mean they are within their rights to tell you to take down all pictures, withdraw all arguments and stop all discourse related to these matters?

    Just because someone finds something offensive is not ENOUGH of a reason to censor it.

    Now, if it INCITES hatred or violence (like saying Jews are pigs and monkeys, or you disbelievers are going to burn in hell, or kill all the dirty kuffar), then that’s a different matter. It’s DIFFERENT because it is a PHYSICAL THREAT of HARM to other human beings.

    This is why there is legislation against incitement to hatred and violence. This is why racism, sexism, homophobia etc are unacceptable and this unacceptability is enshrined in legistlation.

    A cartoon of Jesus and Mo sitting at a bar is no such thing.

  154. “Apologies for the mistake.”

    Thank you. Appreciate that.

    “So have We made the practice of everyone to appear to be attractive in their view. Then their return will be to their Lord who will then inform them of what they had been really doing.(6:109)”

    Why does this not apply equally to you as it does to me?

    You might think making children pray or read the Qur’an doesn’t hurt them, indeed it might appear to be attractive in your eyes. To someone who doesn’t share your beliefs, however, it might appear to be coercion, indoctrination and oppression.

    You see, it works both ways…

    And you haven’t addressed my core objection, which I reiterate:

    Who are you to dictate to people what they can or cannot draw or display? It’s the same as dictating what people can or cannot write or publish.

    How is what you are calling for different from the Muslims who take ‘offence’ at Ahmadi literature being penned, published and disseminated in Pakistan? You have very different views on that, though, don’t you?

  155. Red Star, just for the sake of argument, and with no disrespect intended, let’s say your grandmother, or mother, or sister, or daughter, is dead. Now let’s say someone starts drawing weekly cartoons of her performing lewd acts with a group of men. Now let’s say they put it on facebook.

    You and your family are distraught. You all protest and try to get the cartoons taken down.

    Now you’re told:

    “If by LOOKING AT A CARTOON, you are in some way emotionally hurt, then DON’T LOOK AT IT!
    It isn’t the same as calling someone a racist name or physically injuring somebody, is it?
    Who are you to dictate to people what they can or cannot draw or display?”

    Will you allow them to continue disrespecting your deceased loved one’s sacred memory? Will you continue to let them hurt your family? Do you have no shame at all? Is this the kind of world you are inviting people to live in?

  156. Correction: If red star is not an atheist then in my last comment please read ‘atheists’ instead of ‘yours’. I had assumed he was one. Apologies for the mistake.

    However he has said ” Drawing a cartoon doesn’t hurt people. In ANY way.” which is exactly the stance of the atheists we are debating with.

    I will draw his attention to this quote from the Holy Quran:

    So have We made the practice of everyone to appear to be attractive in their view. Then their return will be to their Lord who will then inform them of what they had been really doing.(6:109)

  157. “As for Christians, I cannot speak for them. However, in your cartoon you have insulted two Prophets (Jesus(as) and Muhammad(saw)) dear to Muslims. Even if Christians don’t protest we Ahmadi Muslims have communicated our displeasure at your actions.”

    I’n not an atheist, neither is it my cartoon. Don’t make things up.

    I’m also not the one sidestepping.

    And, I love the fact that Moosa is equating drawing a cartoon of two individuals who died centuries ago with racism and murdering black people…really pertinent analogy there, not.

    Drawing a cartoon doesn’t hurt people. In ANY way.

    If by LOOKING AT A CARTOON, you are in some way emotionally hurt, then DON’T LOOK AT IT!

    It isn’t the same as calling someone a racist name or physically injuring somebody, is it?

    Who are you to dictate to people what they can or cannot draw or display? It’s the same as dictating what people can or cannot write or publish.

    How is what you are calling for different from the Muslims who take ‘offence’ at Ahmadi literature being penned, published and disseminated in Pakistan? You have very different views on that, though, don’t you?

  158. Mr Red Star, you state that

    “the cartoon was originally used on a closed group (the AHSS) Facebook page in order to promote a closed group (the AHSS) social event. Why would anyone who was not a member of the group (the AHSS), and more specifically Muslims, visit the site and be offended by the image? It does seem that only someone who deliberately decided to visit the site and the advert for the social event of their own free will would have seen the image and taken offence. If you don’t like it, don’t look at it.

    I’m sure many people find Page 3 of certain newspapers offensive. All they have to do is NOT buy the paper and/or NOT look at Page 3. Problem solved. Why try to censor everything when you can simply ignore what you don’t like…?”

    Closed Facebook page of a closed group? I wish the ASH Facebook page were closed to its group members only then we would have had no problems as we do not seek out what you do in your private lives.

    However the page on Facebook advertising the event was open for the whole world to see. Why keep the page open to those members who are not part of ASH UCLU Facebook group? I would also say that Facebook now almost entirely replaces media and newsletters that go out advertising society events. UCLU ASH putting that cartoon on their event page was similar to putting it on a newsletter and making that newsletter open to public.

    I may even give the benefit of the doubt in this case, I may be persuaded that the cartoon was put up for an internal event (no matter how silly this action really is) however it was the refusal to take it down when it was clear that it was disrespectful, and then actively promoting it is what is hurtful to us.

    When the cartoon make headways, I think there were two course of actions the UCLU ASH could have taken
    1. Make the page private so the ‘joke’ (if they call it that) remains within UCLU ASH members.
    2. Keep the page public and remove the cartoon itself as it was deemed offensive to some students of the University.

    However UCLU ASH members did the following instead:
    1. Republished the cartoons on their pages and linked more cartoons
    2. Changed their profile photos to the cartoon images so spreading this disrespectful cartoon
    3. Actively lobbying other blogs and other societies to put up the cartoon in the name of free speech.

    While the first action might be a silly and childish act. The actions that followed speak clearly of the real intentions of the UCLU members. It was not to encourage and actively strive for a cohesive, respectful and tolerant society. But to actively insult certain religious groups.

    While it is true that I choose not to buy the Sun newspaper. In that newspaper someone has fully consented to be nude and those who buy the magazine are fully aware of what they will get. What will you feel if Sun instead publishes a nasty photo mocking your relative who was very dear to you? And on top asks other newspapers and media outlets to publish these photos across the media. You will have to agree that the depiction in that photo was vile and in bade taste.

    We Ahmadis have not asked UCLU ASH to ‘remove the cartoons’. What we have asked is to respect other members who are your fellow students – insulting their faith will not encourage peace but will put barriers between groups.

    As for Christians, I cannot speak for them. However, in your cartoon you have insulted two Prophets (Jesus(as) and Muhammad(saw)) dear to Muslims. Even if Christians don’t protest we Ahmadi Muslims have communicated our displeasure at your actions.

    Peace.

  159. Red Star,

    I note that you have sidestepped my principle legal and philosophical argument – that free speech can and should be limited in rare circumstances for the greater good of society. If we were in a proper debate or tribunal, I would not allow your sidestepping to go unchallenged.

    However, I will address your arguments, even though you have sidestepped my argument.

    1. Red Star’s argument: “Many atheists are certainly offended by the propagation of religion and the contents of religious texts. Therefore, should religious believers forego their freedom of speech and retract these in order to not offend atheists?
    Strange that atheists haven’t asked for that… ”

    1. Moosa’s response: With all due respect, you’re entirely missing the point. Nobody is arguing either for the propagation of religion or against the propagation of atheism. The complaint is not that the Atheist society propagated atheism, the complaint is that they mocked Muhammad (pboh). That mockery is allegedly offensive. Now regarding what the atheists have asked for, again that is irrelevant. For instance, if black people did not ask for us to not use racist language or not murder black people… then would that change the fact that it’s unacceptable to use racist language or murder black people? What atheists choose to ask for is not my criterion for deciding what is fair and right. In any case, regardless of what atheists asks for, if the atheists had any sort of leader of the nature and stature of Muhammad (pboh), then I would never mock such a person because that would be offensive.

    2. Red Star’s argument: “Also, why have there been no Christian complaints regarding this cartoon and its use by the UCL AHSS on its Facebook page?”

    2. Moosa’s response: I cannot answer on behalf of the christians. Their relationship with Jesus (pboh) is different from our relationship. Furthermore, their religion does not specifically forbid the drinking of alcohol or the environment of a pub, therefore I suppose that technically the cartoon did not actually allege an irreligious act by their definition. Furthermore, Islam has always discouraged the portrayal of any sort of image (offensive or otherwise) of Muhammad (pboh) because of socio-religious reasons which do not apply to the Christian religion, in fact the Christian religion itself encourages the artistic portrayal of Jesus (pboh), therefore we are dealing with two very different religions, and it would be unreasonable to expect them both to behave identically. If you’re trying to argue that the cartoons are not offensive because the Christians have not complained, then this is a weak argument. Offence is by its very nature a subjective concept which is different for each social group. For instance, what might be offensive to an afro-caribbean person is not the same as what might be offensive to a chinese person. You cannot apply Christian notions of offensiveness to Muslims.

    3. Red Star’s argument: “Moreover, the cartoon was originally used on a closed group (the AHSS) Facebook page in order to promote a closed group (the AHSS) social event. Why would anyone who was not a member of the group (the AHSS), and more specifically Muslims, visit the site and be offended by the image? It does seem that only someone who deliberately decided to visit the site and the advert for the social event of their own free will would have seen the image and taken offence. If you don’t like it, don’t look at it.”

    3. Moosa’s response: Firstly, the Facebook page is not closed. It is open to and actually encourages membership of theists for the purpose of formal civilised debate and discussion. The Facebook moderator is well aware of the presence of Muslims who are very active in discussion there. For instance, the UCL AMSA (which is a group of muslims) and the UCL AHSS have been building a relationship of discussion based on mutual respect for several months now, several AMSA members were members of this “closed” AHSS group. Several other muslims are also members of this group. In this context, it was obviously clear to your Facebook page moderator that muslims would see the cartoons and cause offense. The moderator is surely aware of the furore caused internationally by such cartoons in the recent past.

    4. Red Star’s argument: “Why try to censor everything when you can simply ignore what you don’t like…?”

    4. Moosa’s response: I think this is innocuous against a background of: (a) As I noted above, the AHSS putting the cartoon up knowing that muslims were members of their Facebook page, (b) the AHSS deliberately continuing to put the cartoon up, even after being notified that it was offensive. It is deceptive to suggest that the muslims somehow were looking for a cause to be offended and searched out these cartoons. The atheists deliberately put these cartoons under the noses of muslims, and then deliberately continued with this policy, and now suddenly they cry innocent? We are not so easily deceived, my friend.

    Peace,
    Moosa

  160. If YOU don’t like it, why do you draw cartoons about it? Just focus on non-religious matters. Problem solved.

  161. Moosa, you say this:

    “In any case, the Atheist society may well decide that in their view the principle of free speech outweighs all other political or social consequences. They may decide to deliberately repeat the cartoons, regardless of any offense caused, in order to establish conclusively their right to free speech.”

    Many atheists are certainly offended by the propagation of religion and the contents of religious texts. Therefore, should religious believers forego their freedom of speech and retract these in order to not offend atheists?

    Strange that atheists haven’t asked for that…

    Also, why have there been no Christian complaints regarding this cartoon and its use by the UCL AHSS on its Facebook page?

    Moreover, the cartoon was originally used on a closed group (the AHSS) Facebook page in order to promote a closed group (the AHSS) social event. Why would anyone who was not a member of the group (the AHSS), and more specifically Muslims, visit the site and be offended by the image? It does seem that only someone who deliberately decided to visit the site and the advert for the social event of their own free will would have seen the image and taken offence. If you don’t like it, don’t look at it.

    I’m sure many people find Page 3 of certain newspapers offensive. All they have to do is NOT buy the paper and/or NOT look at Page 3. Problem solved. Why try to censor everything when you can simply ignore what you don’t like…?

  162. It’s important to make the point that UCL Atheists don’t actually have an absolute right to free speech. I’m surprised nobody seems to have understood this.

    Freedom of speech is not an absolute freedom in any constitutional law. For instance, the UN Declaration of Human Rights recognises that it is subject to limitations, such as slander, public order, public health or public morals. Indeed it is this very fact which has permitted the legal justification for prohibiting homophobic or racist public statements in specific national jurisdictions.

    Following on from this, every organisation (including UCL Students Union) makes policy decisions where it has to balance the importance of free speech versus the importance of public order and respect for the rights and reputations of others. To insist that “We have a right to free speech, we will say whatever we wish, we are outraged that our Union should try to limit our speech, we will now in fact say it even louder” is… very immature, both in terms of legal-political awareness but also immature socially and on a behavioural level. The Atheist society should be aware that the UCL Students Union has to consider all the political and social implications of the behaviour of its constituent member societies.

    We should not forget the fact that a situation exists in the world where extremist islamists are at war with extremist western hegemonists, or the fact that mocking Muhammad (pboh) will obviously give moral ammunition to both sides of this conflict. Arguably, these cartoons needlessly inflame a situation which has resulted already in millions of deaths in Afghanistan and Iraq and even bombings in London and threatens many more. Furthermore, remember that the United Kingdom and famously UCL itself (remember Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab?) has students who are already disenchanted with the Western democratic model and only too ready to seize on this example of contempt for their religion as an excuse to turn to a violent solution.

    I don’t mean to sound apocalyptic, I’m not suggesting UCL Atheists are about to cause World War 3. It’s just that we need to get out of this idealistic bubble we seem to be trapped in. An ex-UCL student was actually convicted of terrorism just a couple of years ago, subsequently the British anti-terrorist squad have expressed grave concerns to the UCL authorities. Terrorism is a prime example where political considerations clearly overrule free speech, and I’m sure some fairly important people in the UCL establishment and indeed the anti-terrorist infrastructure are going to be looking at these UCL cartoons and thinking, “Is this likely to have implications for the terrorist risk in London?”. The UCL Student Union has to consider all the legal, social and political ramifications of these cartoons. I don’t think the Atheist community quite understands what they’ve got themselves into.

    In any case, the Atheist society may well decide that in their view the principle of free speech outweighs all other political or social consequences. They may decide to deliberately repeat the cartoons, regardless of any offense caused, in order to establish conclusively their right to free speech. Perhaps they worry that in the long run, muting their voices in the face of Islamic disapprobation will give way to the ascendancy of religious bigotry over human liberty. They’re free to make that evaluation and trial that course of action. What they have to understand is that in fact ethically, philosophically, legally and constitutionally… there’s no such thing as an absolute right, particularly individual liberties can and should submit to the greater public good, and the UCL Students Union can disaggree with the Atheist society’s evaluation and justifiably suppress free speech if they think that there are important policy reasons for doing so. I am not sure what sort of appeals process exists at UCL, but this isn’t actually a clear-cut issue, it’s basically a value-judgment which has to be made, and I believe that ultimately the highest legal authority in such a scenario would be the European Court of Human Rights.

    Peace,
    Moosa

  163. Thanks Jacob, for trying to speak on the situation one on one, ask directly and it was nice to see that no harsh words were said. I also commend the one who has responded to reason out and explain properly – I hope this matter gets resolved, the cartoon is taken down, as it is inviting a lot of harsh comments towards the Muslims in particular.

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