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Why won’t Sam Harris ask Maajid Nawaz important questions?

 
Hesperado
 
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Hesperado
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07 December 2015 19:34
 

I’ve already discussed this at length in an older post here on this forum—https://www.samharris.org/forum/viewthread/18099/—as well as in two essays on my blog (linked in that post above).

Why can’t Sam Harris see the problems Maajid Nawaz presents as a supposed “reformer”?  This question becomes even more searingly acute, given that Sam is intelligent, rational, and evidently loves the truth.  Sam’s lacuna in this regard is baffling and surreal.

Why, for example, can’t Sam see what Andrew Bostom and Diana West can see?

Bostom described the performance of Maajid Nawaz on Fox News on December 3 (on The Kelly File ) as “disingenuous drivel”—and Diana West described his articulations on that same program as “double talk and deception”. 

Why is Sam still enabling Maajid without properly vetting him?  Perhaps more importantly, why are Sam’s fans (who buy his books) not politely but firmly asking him this same question?

http://www.andrewbostom.org/2015/12/reformer-maajid-nawaz-and-wm-abdallah-quilliam-caliphate-supporting-namesake-for-nawazs-reformist-organization/

Also see:

How to Pass as a “Moderate Muslim” in the Counter-Jihad

http://hesperado.blogspot.com/2015/10/how-to-pass-as-moderate-muslim-in.html

Does not compute: The Sam Harris/Maajid Nawaz “Conversation”

http://hesperado.blogspot.com/2015/09/does-not-compute-sam-harrismaajid-nawaz.html

 
Twissel
 
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Twissel
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07 December 2015 23:46
 

Sam Harris made it very clear that in Nawaz he does not seek someone who agrees with him on the issue - he is looking for someone who publicly calls for reform of Islam, speaks out against extremism and has some credibility (in that he used to be a radical).

Whether he is honest or not is pretty irrelevant as long as he promotes a more enlightened, peaceful version of Islam as publicly as possible.

 
 
Hesperado
 
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08 December 2015 10:46
 

Ubik has not addressed my concerns.  Nowhere have I limited the concerns which Maajid Nawaz presents merely to his “being honest”. 

However, if I ran with Ubik’s straw man/red herring, it is logical that honesty is relative.  If Maajid were being dishonest about issues unrelated to the matter at hand, then yes, it’s arguable that the dishonesty would be irrelevant.  But when he may be dishonest about central factors in the tissue of his reform package (e.g., the problem of naming his foundation after Abdullah Quilliam who promoted sedition against Britain in the name of support for a jihadist movement (in the Sudan) arguably as bad as Boko Haram as well as the fervent dream of a united global Caliphate), then at the very least, we in the Counter-Jihad have the obligation (and the right) to demand a vetting process where Maajid would submit to a full battery of questions which he must answer without his usual “disingenuous drivel” as Andrew Bostom so aptly characterizes it.

P.S.:

I’d like to know if Sam Harris agrees with Ubik that whether or not Maajid Nawaz is honest is an “irrelevant” matter.  ROTPRLMAO (Rolling On The Prayer Rug Laughing My Ass Off)...

[ Edited: 08 December 2015 10:48 by Hesperado]
 
Twissel
 
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08 December 2015 11:23
 
Hesperado - 08 December 2015 10:46 AM

I’d like to know if Sam Harris agrees with Ubik that whether or not Maajid Nawaz is honest is an “irrelevant” matter.  ROTPRLMAO (Rolling On The Prayer Rug Laughing My Ass Off)...

don’t hold your breath - Sam Harris is not really active on this forum.

 
 
GodlessKafir
 
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08 December 2015 15:42
 
Ubik - 07 December 2015 11:46 PM

Sam Harris made it very clear that in Nawaz he does not seek someone who agrees with him on the issue - he is looking for someone who publicly calls for reform of Islam, speaks out against extremism and has some credibility (in that he used to be a radical).

When Sam Harris said that he is not looking for Nawaz to agree with him he was talking about on whether or not Islam is true. Sam Harris is infamous for attacking people’s beliefs in the supernatural. He has debated William Lane Craig the Christian, David Wolpe the Jew and Deepak Choprah the pantheist. Sam wouldn’t question a Muslim’s supernatural beliefs though, that would make him feel like a bigot. Sam will constantly complain about how Christians are irrational but he wants to respect his buddy Nawaz’s beliefs.

It is blatantly obvious that Nawaz is being deceptive and wants to protect Islam from criticism by offering his make-believe “Islamism.” Listen closer when he talks. He doesn’t hold Islam responsible for any of the atrocities committed in it’s name. Another important function he serves for Islam is too distract anti-Islam leaders like Sam Harris, Ayaan Hirsi Ali and Douglas Murray by encouraging open dialogue with the Muslim community. While idiots sit around talking to Muslims and waiting for reform that will never come Islam is becoming stronger.

[ Edited: 08 December 2015 15:48 by GodlessKafir]
 
Hesperado
 
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08 December 2015 16:00
 

Well put, GodlessKafir.  It’s transparently clear from what Nawaz argues that he wants the the West, and that critical nucleus of the West, the Counter-Jihad, to disassociate Islam from what the Counter-Jihad rightly perceives is the problem of Islam—thus ending up with a fabrication called “extremist Islamism” supposed to be separate from Islam.  The dismaying thing is that someone as bright as Sam Harris is falling for this blatant, transparent magic trick by Maajid. 

As I have said, Sam is bright enough to reconsider this disastrous course he’s been taking—but he will be less likely to do so if all his supporters keep reinforcing him and telling him—without critical qualification—that he’s doing a great job.

 
icehorse
 
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icehorse
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12 December 2015 08:52
 

Hesperado, Godless,

Are you saying you don’t think there are many Muslims who fall into the “Islamist” category? As a simplification, I’d call folks who think Sharia should be the law of their land, Islamists. By that definition, there are hundreds of millions of Islamists. Further, I’d say it’s essential to make that category of belief well known in the world.

 
 
Hesperado
 
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Hesperado
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12 December 2015 15:10
 

icehorse,

First, I’d want to point out that your question is not directly relevant to the problem of Maajid Nawaz (e.g., naming his “reform” foundation “Quilliam”, named after Abdallah Quilliam, a seditious Muslim convert who was a supporter of a jihadist movement in the Sudan flamingly fitting his definition of “Islamist extremist”).

Your question is, however, indirectly related, because Maajid promotes the concept & usage of the term “Islamist” (along with the further tweaked subtype “Islamist extremist”).  So let’s take a look at your question more closely.  Asking godless and me whether we don’t think “there are many Muslims who fall into the “Islamist” category” opens up two problems:

1) how is “Islamist” defined so that it’s different from garden-variety “Muslim”?

2) even if #1 was clarified coherently, and we agreed to think that such a category of Muslim exists (even “many” of them)—how does that solve our problem of Islam which is getting horribly worse in our time?

Thus, focusing on #1, we note that you explain—“I’d call folks who think Sharia should be the law of their land, Islamists. By that definition, there are hundreds of millions of Islamists.”

This explanation does not clarify what it is these Islamists desire—it only vaguely says that they think “Sharia should be the law of their land”.  Moreover, the explanation is subtly glossing over the problem of Muslims in the West wanting Sharia to replace Western laws (note the locution “the law of their land”).  So what do we call Muslims who want Sharia to replace Western laws?  “Extra crispy Islamists with hot sauce”? 

Secondly, what is this “Sharia” these Muslims want?  We who have studied Islam over the years know that there is only one Sharia—a bloody, cruel, outrageously anti-liberal and anti-human rights system calculated to impose totalitarian control over everyone.  So what do we call all those Muslims who slyly and disingenuously try to sell us the idea that Sharia is wonderfully “diverse” and that there is no one Sharia?  “Islamists with cream and sugar pretending not to be Islamists?”  Yeah, I like that.

Thirdly, because Sharia is outrageously, grotesquely, ghoulishly anti-modern and is a crime as defined by the laws of every free country on the planet (even if most Westerners continue to be fooled by the sly propaganda taqiyya of the Muslim apologists who claim that Sharia is wonderfully “diverse” and includes many harmless version filled with sugar & spice & everything nice), there is no way in Jahannam it could ever become the law of the land in any land that values freedom and human rights—other than through violently imposing it upon that land.

Fourth and finally, we who have studied Islam over the years know that normative mainstream ordinary traditional Islam mandates the establishment of Sharia over all of Mankind.  So knowing this, how do we define all those Muslims who

a) claim they don’t want Sharia, or

b) claim that Sharia is wonderfully “diverse”, or

c) seem by their superficial outward behavior to be not following Sharia?

I would define a-b-c as distractions fooling the West into thinking Islam is not a systemic, metastasizing threat undergoing a global revival in our time, whose danger to the West will only increase the more we allow ourselves to be fooled by the kind of taqiyya which various Islamopologists (whether Good Cops like Reza Aslan, or Better Cops like Maajid Nawas & Zuhdi Jasser) try to sell us.
.

[ Edited: 12 December 2015 15:13 by Hesperado]
 
icehorse
 
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icehorse
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12 December 2015 16:01
 

Hey Hesperado,

Pleased to meet you. First off, you’re “preaching to the choir” in your lambasting of Islam and Sharia. No pushback from me whatsoever.

Further I’d agree that the most parsimonious reading of Islamic scripture is in keeping with what you describe.

But if you’re saying that every Muslim secretly wishes for Sharia rule, I’d have to disagree. Do you think that every Christian secretly thinks he should kill his daughter if it’s discovered she’s not a virgin when she got married? In other words, we don’t expect that every Christian takes every word of the Bible literally, and we shouldn’t expect that every Muslim takes every word of the Quran literally either.

I would guess that a vanishingly small percentage of Christians take the bible literally, and as I think I said earlier (might have been a different thread), my sense is that about a 1/3 of Muslims take the Quran literally, or very close to literally. And that 1/3 is the third I believe Harris refers to as Islamists.

I think we agree far more than we disagree. Those 500 million islamists are a huge, huge problem. And Reza the masochist, gives them cover. But my take on Nawaz is that he’s trying to find pragmatic strategies to deal with this problem. He certainly seems to have made some important concessions in his discussions with Harris. Is it the complete, honest picture? Certainly not. But there’s gonna have to be some diplomacy and patience to chip away at this problem.

In the meantime, rest assured that I won’t be lulled into a false sense of security until Islam has been totally marginalized.

 
 
GodlessKafir
 
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12 December 2015 16:36
 
icehorse - 12 December 2015 08:52 AM

“Are you saying you don’t think there are many Muslims who fall into the “Islamist” category? As a simplification, I’d call folks who think Sharia should be the law of their land, Islamists. By that definition, there are hundreds of millions of Islamists. Further, I’d say it’s essential to make that category of belief well known in the world.”

Icehorse you are defining “Islamists” differently than Nawaz and Harris do. Like Hesperado pointed out your definition does not include Muslims who want Shariah in the West. Nawaz and Harris agree that “Islamism” is a politicized version of Islam, implying that Islam is not political. Icehorse do you think Islam is political? If you remove all the political aspects from Islam is it still Islam?

Nawaz says “Islamists” are people who desire to impose any interpretation of Islam onto civil society. By that definition mainstream Muslims are “Islamists.” Right after defining Islam that way in Islam And The Future Of Tolerance Nawaz claims that outside Jihadists and Islamists there is a circle of conservative Muslims who still want things like death for apostasy. Harris responds by saying that is a good distinction. Icehorse does a person who wants to murder people for leaving Islam not a person who wants to impose some version of Islam onto civil society?

Nawaz is protecting Islam from criticism and distracting a lot of people including Harris. Will Sam ever wake up? I think the only hope is if his blind followers wake up themselves and start criticizing him.

[ Edited: 12 December 2015 16:38 by GodlessKafir]
 
icehorse
 
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12 December 2015 16:52
 

Godless,

My definition of Islamist was a simplification - as I said. The one sentence definition of Nawaz’s that you gave seems mostly consistent with mine. Of course I believe that politics is baked into the Islam as described by the scripture. I have never heard Harris imply that politics isn’t baked into Islam, but perhaps he did. Do you have a citation for that?

For the purposes of our discussion, I’d say that any Muslim who DOES NOT admit the political aspects of Islam is deciding to cherry pick. Technically speaking such cherry picking is not allowed, but my sense is that the majority of Muslims are secret cherry pickers.

As for the last distinction you say Harris makes, I’d have to see the citation. It strikes me that in this thread we’re basing a lot on definitions, and so we ought to be precise in quoting other people’s definitions.

 
 
sojourner
 
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12 December 2015 18:04
 

Ha, I think the idea of Nawaz being some kind of double agent is hilarious. I actually love the guy because he seems like an unabashed narcissist - not in a bad way, more in a funny and kind of aware that he’s a bit over-the-top way (Maajid Nawaz’s problem with Islam - not enough Maajid Nawaz in Islam. Everyone keeps talking about this “Mohammed” guy who is like, totally not Maajid Nawaz. Solution: convert to the au courant political movement of the moment, which is something like Liberal Supremacism [it involves elevating the ideals of liberalism to such transcendent heights that pretty much anything is justified in their name, while still saying you are a liberal and not one of those tacky conservatives, because everyone knows they drive pickup trucks or something and don’t even know what important concepts like ‘cold pressed’ beverages are.])


He may well tell himself on occasion that he’s fighting stereotypes for his fellow Muslims, but really, his opinions are almost almost straight off of a Fox newsfeed. If he can wage some kind of opinion-shifting jihad on the West by giving opinions that are about 1% more liberal than those given on Fox & Friends, then we’re apparently an incredibly persuadable people anyhow.

 
 
Hesperado
 
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12 December 2015 20:11
 

icehorse,

“But if you’re saying that every Muslim secretly wishes for Sharia rule, I’d have to disagree.”

It’s a reasonable inference to make, given Islamic texts, Islamic culture, Islamic history, and Islamic news (for the latter, spend a few hours reviewing the data at Memri.org in the form of damning videos & text).  Part of that complex listed includes two crucial factors:  1) the fact that Sharia is part of mainstream Islam (and “Sharia” includes the imperative for it to rule); and 2) the problem of Islamic taqiyya which makes it impossible for us to believe any Muslim who says anything other than what we know Islam teaches.

“Do you think that every Christian secretly thinks he should kill his daughter if it’s discovered she’s not a virgin when she got married?”

Faulty analogy, since Christian history & Christian news demonstrate that Christianity has evolved to where it’s no longer anything other than a minuscule problem for society what their Bible says; and Christian doctrine already contains mechanisms whereby what seems alarming in the Old Testament does not translate into anything that threatens society today.  The precise opposite pertains with Islamic history & Islamic news, and Islamic texts & culture.

“In other words, we don’t expect that every Christian takes every word of the Bible literally, and we shouldn’t expect that every Muslim takes every word of the Quran literally either.”

This glib statement demonstrates a breezy and sweeping lack of familiarity with the culture of literal fanaticism in Islam that makes it starkly contrasted to the state of Christianity in our time.

“my sense is that about a 1/3 of Muslims take the Quran literally”

Is that your sense, or your wish?

“[Nawaz] certainly seems to have made some important concessions in his discussions with Harris.”

Those concessions come at a price and they are cleverly suspended in a cat’s-cradle of a tissue of memes that have the effect of protecting Islam and the vast majority of Muslims from the condemnation they so richly deserve.  And, more appositely, those concessions are calculated to ensnare the warier among us—those who are not easily fooled by the “Good Cop” pseudo-reformers like Reza Aslan or Tariq Ramadan.  And they are evidently working, for they’ve fooled Sam Harris and innumerable others like you and this ditzy Nawaz Groupie “Niclynn” who posted here earlier.  Nawaz represents the rare “Better Cop” who has upped the game of the Good Cop—precisely in order to infiltrate the Counter-Jihad.  The reasons I’m confident in assuming this is because of the transparently disingenuous tactics he deploys, some of which I’ve gone into in all the links I’ve provided.

“Is it the complete, honest picture? Certainly not. But there’s gonna have to be some diplomacy and patience to chip away at this problem.”

It’s not a simple quantitative problem, where Nawaz can be dishonest about one piece over here, but not about another piece over there: it’s a complex bundle, where the whole package fits together with interlocking parts, and all the important parts are flawed, but they only hold together because we who are receiving it desperately feel the consequences of the facts we know about Islam are too horrible to contemplate, so there must be reform. 

And finally, nothing you’re saying refutes 1) the need to have any given Muslim properly vetted before we trust him to be part of our Conversation on the problem of Islam, and 2) the argument demonstrating that Maajid Nawaz has not been so properly vetted.  And yet you seem to be dancing around that fundamental problem that is the crux of this thread of mine (and of my previous thread to which I link as part of my opening statement).

 
icehorse
 
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icehorse
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12 December 2015 20:28
 

Ok then, back to the OP…

What specific Nawaz quotes do you have to demonstrate your claims? not links please, quote a few here, and don’t forget to include sufficient context.  thanks

 
 
Hesperado
 
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12 December 2015 22:38
 

icehorse,

Nawaz is too clever to say anything that can be pinned down to use against him; rather, he weaves a tissue of sophistry which requires an argument of exposure that becomes necessarily detailed and lengthy (which I attempted in small part in my two essays I linked in my OP).

That said, the thrust of my OP is not primarily to damn Nawaz with claims based on smoking gun evidence (which, in any case, he’s too clever so far to provide) but to make a case for why we need to vet him before we trust him to be a partner in our Conversation about the problem of Islam.  I’m confident you have as much imagination informed by the mountains of data about that problem as I do to formulate some good line of questioning that would help in that vetting process.  Something like this:

a) Why did you call your Islamic reform organization “The Quilliam Foundation”?

b) Did you know that Abdullah Quilliam waxed zealously in favor of a global calpihate?

c) Do you support Abdullah Quilliam’s rhapsodic enthusiasm for a global caliphate?

d) Did you know that Abdullah Quilliam condemned the British efforts to help Muslims in the Sudan by fighting against the extremist jihadist Mahdi Jihad?  Did you also know that Abdullah Quilliam fervently enjoined fellow Muslims to do the same, to condemn the British efforts to fight against the extremist Mahdi Jihad?

e) Do you support Abdullah Quilliam with regard to the two points mentioned in (d)?

f) Do you admire Muhammad?  Do you agree with the Koran when it elevates Muhammad to the “best model of conduct” for all Muslims and when it elevates him to the “perfect man”?

g) [List a few of the key words & deeds of Muhammad that any reasonable person would agree are horrible, vile, pernicious, and dangerous for society if emulated, then ask]  Do you agree that Muhammad said and did these things?  [If he says “no”, then ask] Why do you say no?  [This may be the place then to follow up with questions about what he thinks about the various apparatus of the Sunna—the hadiths, sira, and tafsirs—which detail at length the horrible facts of Muhammad.  It is doubtful that a clever snake like Nawaz would actually be honest and say “yes”—but he may well try to waffle between “yes” and “no”.  At this point, the questioners should focus on the implication of a “yes” between the lines there and seize upon it with probing questions—in order to force him out of his untenable attempt to occupy the non-existent position between “yes” and “no”.]

h) [Basically the same questioning process would be applied with regard to Allah and the Koran—both of which one of course reasonably assumes Nawaz admires.]

[And, of course, any and all of these questions should be fleshed out with follow-up questions to ensure that Nawaz doesn’t try to slip oilily out of providing satisfactory answers in good faith.]

 
icehorse
 
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icehorse
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13 December 2015 07:52
 

Hey Hesperado,

That’s a good set of questions. I listened to a discussion between Harris and Nawaz, I wish I’d taken notes. My impressions though, were that they had found some sort of uneasy middle ground, neither of them comfortable or completely satisfied.

Harris has a line something like: “When disputes arise, they are solved either through conversation or guns.” It strikes me that Harris is trying hard to figure out how to bring the conversation option into more disputes. It also strikes me that he’s pretty self-deprecating about it. I’ve heard him say more than once that he’s not cut out for diplomacy.

So we could grill folks like Nawaz as you suggest, but will that really increase conversations?

To me, this is a situation where we have to take the small victories and keep pressing.

 
 
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