About.com about Islam

Total Posts:  1
Joined  27-01-2012
27 January 2012 10:47

Hello everyone,

Quick background: This is my first post here (I’m glad I found this forum!). I don’t believe in any religion/god and have grown up in a very secular family in a Christian/secular country. I have not read the Bible, nor any other holy books.

Now, after recently reading End of Faith and viewed lots of Sam Harris on Youtube, I’ve started to try to learn more about Islam. Having come across the Islam pages on About.com, they seem to (somewhat) refute what Harris writes in his books.

The Qur’an commands Muslims to stick up for themselves in a defensive battle—i.e. if an enemy army attacks, then Muslims are to fight against that army until they stop their aggression. All of the verses that speak about fighting/war in the Qur’an are in this context. There are some specific verses that are very often “snipped” out of context, either by critics of Islam discussing “jihadism,” or by misguided Muslims themselves who wish to justify their aggressive tactics.


Islam never tolerates unprovoked aggression from its own side; Muslims are commanded in the Qur’an not to begin hostilities, embark on any act of aggression, violate the rights of others, or harm the innocent.


Is the Quran/Islam more tolerant and peaceful than Harris thinks? Can it be a matter of interpretation, or are the About.com pages misleading?

Any thoughts on this are much appreciated!

Total Posts:  145
Joined  06-05-2011
27 January 2012 13:11

Here are my thoughts.

You’re talking about a book written in the Bronze Age that’s likely to contain all sort of unpleasantries which clash with any workable formulation for Everybody Getting Along today. To smooth this over, it’s best if. society fudges on the exact translated meaning of some things.

Conservatives hate this approach. Take our own SCOTUS and the whole issue they have with the Constitution being a “living document”. Every time someone says that, a clerk of the court has to go clean out Thomas’s diapers. The thing is what it is in the literal interpretation of the very words used as they were intended by the people who wrote it, oh, and every single word of it is literally true.

Of course even though the Bible clearly says “thou shalt not suffer a witch to live” and those words are pretty UNambiguous, you don’t see fundies going after witches anymore. When I proclaim my Warlockhood (not really) and offer them to take a swing, the fundies I talk to claim not to be acquainted with that passage and promise to get back to me on it.

OTOH, the Bible clearly says a man shall not lay with a man as with a woman. So doing it standing up must be OK. As it’s written, it’s clear the authors of the Bible aren’t against gay sex per se, only the position of the participants.  This is what it says, and we’re interpreting the Bible literally, right?  Damn Right ! Inerrant word ‘o God that is! So the Biblical authors must have been worried about the position of the gay sex act; perhaps it had something to do with the Santorum (link time!!!!) :


(and STILL #1 on Google: santorum… let’s be creative and keep this going folks!)

It’s all about cognitive dissonance at the personal and societal levels. I don’t get stoned for declaring my warlockhood because the people who would do the stoning weigh the consequences for themselves ad look for a *nice* way out.  That’s what I call “blinking away cognitive dissonance” as opposed to really *resolving* it at a meaningful level .

BLINK!  BLINK! All gone!

Huh? What just happened?

So ditto About.com and its authors. We need to gloss this kill the infidel shit over somehow. Try going to Pakistan or Indonesia where About.com is banned (one supposes) and see if anyone is glossing anything over. Mmmmm not so much.

If we could get all the world’s conservative fundies to loosen up,  through some device, say an agreed upon About.com article we can all feel good about, then we’d have gone a long ways to defusing the ticking time bomb of murder every fundie is.

But it’s easier said than done. It seems to be related to your own perceived vulnerability; if you think people might hit you back or otherwise something bad might happen to you if you believe literal interpretations, then you’re more open to the About.comization of your belief system.

If you find yourself in a position of unassailability, compromise is less likely; think of Clarence Thomas. HE’s never going to change his mind because what bad thing is going to happen to him if he doesn’t?

Ditto those in power in local areas of   Pakistan. They ARE the law. Ditto people who never step outside of their fundy circle of friends.

This is why i like laws like the one France passed that said to deny the Armenian Genocide is a crime. And in Germany, which has one that says denying the Holocaust is a crime. That spreads the consequences for anti-social fanaticism around a lot more and removes secure places of impunity fundies and their ilk otherwise hide in.

So the About.com article is not about facts, it’s about a strategy someone(s) is deploying to try to give the bomb throwers room to back off their bombs if they’re so inclined.






[ Edited: 27 January 2012 13:17 by softwarevisualization]
Total Posts:  124
Joined  09-01-2012
31 January 2012 11:59

Is the Quran/Islam more tolerant and peaceful than Harris thinks? Can it be a matter of interpretation, or are the About.com pages misleading?

I don’t think its a matter of quantifying how tolerant or peaceful a particular religion is, and I think Sam Harris makes this point.  It can be granted that Christianity, Islam, Jainism, whatever, can be tolerant and peaceful as exemplified by its practitioners.  The question is, why would these practitioners believe something without evidence, or appear to believe something on as much evidence as astrologers have for their tarot cart readings.

Another point is, even if some Muslims are tolerant and peaceful, the core dogma of Islam as described by its holy books (and the same can be said for Christianity) can be bent, molded, and interperted to be quite intolerant and violent, all the while being as Islamic as any peaceful interpertation.

To me Islam is no better than Christianity in these regards; it is a tradition of superstitions that has no use for me, knowing what I know now.