Jesus ‘n’ Mo ‘n’ ISIS

April 8, 2015 • 8:30 am

In this week’s strip, the Divine Duo discuss the Islamic State. The artist also provides a link to an article on ISIS with the note:

Thanks to Mehdi Hasan for this week’s strip.


If you read Hasan’s long article in The New Statesman, “How Islamic is the Islamic State?“, you’ll see an apologist tying himself into knots trying to claim that the actions of ISIS have little to do with Islam. It’s a tedious exercise in cherry picking and confirmation bias, and ends this way:

To claim that Isis is Islamic is egregiously inaccurate and empirically unsustainable, not to mention insulting to the 1.6 billion non-violent adherents of Islam across the planet. Above all else, it is dangerous and self-defeating, as it provides Baghdadi and his minions with the propaganda prize and recruiting tool that they most crave.

Hasan is Britain’s Reza Aslan.

A more cogent (and shorter) article is Tom Holland’s rebuttal of Hasan’s piece, also in The New Statesman, called “We must not deny the religious roots of the Islamic state.” An excerpt:

It is not merely coincidence that IS currently boasts a caliph, imposes quranically mandated taxes, topples idols, chops the hands off thieves, stones adulterers, exec­utes homosexuals and carries a flag that bears the Muslim declaration of faith. If Islamic State is indeed to be categorised as a phenomenon distinct from Islam, it urgently needs a manifest and impermeable firewall raised between them. At the moment, though, I fail to see it.


28 thoughts on “Jesus ‘n’ Mo ‘n’ ISIS

  1. This is the Mehdi Hasan, of course, who actually does believe that Mohammed literally rode to heaven on a winged horse.* Why should I take him seriously?

    * In an interview with Richard Dawkins, Al-Jazeera TV

  2. “…not to mention insulting to the 1.6 billion non-violent adherents of Islam across the planet.”

    That’s a clear threat to anyone who points to the obvious link between ISIS and islam. Peaceful stuff indeed.

    1. To mention the billion plus Muslims who are non-violent is deceptive. I prefer AHA’s division of Muslims into three groups. The few true reformers, the few extremists and those many who do not carry out jihad, but who are so steeped in the dogma they cannot and dare not criticize the jihadists.

      1. That three groups distinction is probably accurate based on research and polling of Muslim beliefs worldwide – notably the 2013 Pew poll.

        I quite like Sam Harris’ concentric circles definition as well: that there is a relatively small core of violent Jihadis, but that this small core is surrounded by a much larger circle of Islamists, and then a larger circle still of regressive, conservative, orthodox muslims.

        How often do we hear politicians and commentators refer to violent or regressive Islam as being the fringe?

        Unfortunately, it seems like it’s not so much the fringe as it is the core of a very rotten apple.

        The true minority in contemporary Islam are those on the periphery, like Ayaan, who seek a true reformation and enlightenment.

        Sadly, they’re the one’s who get attacked from both sides.

    2. Did you see the little asterisk next to ‘non-violent’? Even if you can’t see it, you know it’s there, and pretty much what the footnote would mean.

  3. I’ve seen many claim that ISIS is not really Islamic (or Scottish) and they try to convince the western world of this.

    Yet none try telling this to ISIS.

    1. Exactly; stop telling me, tell Baghdadi. I would love to hear a theological debate between the apologists and Baghdadi.

    2. When sane western politicians state that ISIS is a perversion of Islam, they are not making a theological claim – it’s not their business to make theological claims.

      Rather, they are making political statements aimed at the vast majority of muslims who do not want to enlist with ISIS. Those muslims would be offended and moved against the west if western leaders insisted they were the same as ISIS. Much as most Christians would not like being lumped together with the KKK.

      The insane RWNJ pols do not seem to realize this simple fact.

  4. Syria and Mesopotamia are weakened by years of war?

    Invaders attack out of the desert and occupy the weakened land and declare their leader to be its caliph?

    The invaders claim that their religion is truer and purer than the religions of those they conquer?

    No, nothing islamic there.

  5. “To claim that Isis is Islamic is egregiously inaccurate and empirically unsustainable, not to mention insulting to the 1.6 billion non-violent adherents of Islam across the planet.”

    And Allah forbid that any of those 1.6 billion adherents of Islam should feel insulted.

    If they do not subscribe to ISIS’s interpretations of Islam, do not support ISIS, then there is no reason they should feel insulted. Embarrassed a bit, perhaps. Motivated to speak up and point out that they do not subscribe to ISIS’s interpretations of Islam and condemn ISIS’s behavior, yes. That would be a more legitimate response from the 1.6 billion than complaining about being insulted.

    If they do subscribe to any significant degree to ISIS’s interpretations of Islam, if they feel the need to equivocate about ISIS because they actually do share some of their views to some degree, then they still have no good reason to feel insulted. It would be a good sign, I think, if they felt ashamed though.

  6. …not to mention insulting to the 1.6 billion non-violent adherents of Islam across the planet.

    …and there’s the problem in a nutshell; the honor culture.

    Actually, two problems I guess: the problem of seeing ‘offensiveness’ as a reason to shut down conversation, and the deeper problem of (some) humans feeling insulted any time its pointed out that a different member of some group they belong to did something bad.

    1. Yeah, revjimbob, I’ve heard this before and I’m not convinced it’s Hasan. Comments are disabled for the video and that could be for any reason, but the most obvious one is…erm obvious.

      Whereas I am convinced that this IS Hasan from another youtube vid.

      “…the atheists who remain deaf and stubborn to Islam… are described in the Quran, quote, as ‘a people of no intelligence’…because they’re incapable of the intellectual effort it requires to shake off those blind prejudices…about the existence of God. In this respect, the Quran describes the atheists as ‘cattle’, as cattle of those who grow the crops and do not stop and wonder about this world.”

      We need to call out this charlatan and ‘soft Islamist’ as defined by the Council of Ex-Muslims of Britain in his da’wa – the practice of appearing reasonable in debate while conducting proselytization: he has a credible reputation among the daft self-censoring UK left. Hasan makes Aslan look like Maajid Nawaz, with apologies to MN for mentioning him in the same sentence as Hasan.

      Allele akhbar. x

  7. Let’s see — we’ve got an all-powerful God to whom we must each submit, a specially-revealed holy book which establishes the sacred, and a plan for eventual world domination and divine Perfection– all accompanied by complete immunity to question, criticism, or “insult.”

    I am shocked, shocked I say, that something unfortunate like ISIS happened to occur and this all went so awry.

  8. If ISIS has nothing to do with the 1.6 billion folks in Islam it is hard to figure why they do nothing about it.

    We could claim the Pope is not Catholic or the difficulties in Northern Ireland have nothing to do with religion but that would be very close to insanity

  9. Hasan made some good points. They were completely overwhelmed by his apologism. As always, he tries to take his analogies too far. My opinion is this is because the face he shows to the public most of the time is far more reasonable than what he really thinks, and he just can’t help himself.

    His public face is one of moderation, but there is plenty of evidence that privately he holds many of the more extreme views of Islam.

  10. I don’t quite think that Hasan is the British Reza Aslan. Aslan strikes me as a conscious deceiver, intentionally misleading his readers about Islam, as Sam Harris has suggested. EXMNA has called him out for lying on several occasions. Robert Spencer says that Aslan is an Islamic supremacist in disguise as a liberal Muslim intellectual who works for the Iranian ayatollahs.

    I’m not quite so certain that Hasan can be described in such terms. Sure, his article is apologetic claptrap, but some believers are actually convinced that suicide bombing and jihad are caused by ‘alienation’ or what have you.

  11. “not to mention insulting to the 1.6 billion non-violent adherents of Islam across the planet”
    It’s that same kind of logic that shows organised oppression of homosexuals by churches ain’t Christian, as it’s insulting to all those Christians who aren’t homophobic nor wish to oppress homosexuals.

    1. Exactly. Pointing out that ISIS is Islamic isn’t the equivalent of saying all Muslims are like ISIS. That’s a basic logical fallacy, akin to saying that, since all cats are mammals, therefore all mammals must be cats, and therefore can be fed fish and given a belly-rub.

      Another problem, though, is how do these people decide what’s a “true” version of a religion or not? Religions are notoriously schismatic, fuzzy, and potentially unlimited in scope (partly because they’re not bound by limits that a rational system of ideas would have to respect), not to mention mostly full of nonsense and invention to begin with. The demarcation problem is acute when it comes to religions. It is also separating “true lies” from lies, or sensible nonsense from just plain nonsense. You can’t make the point without using standards that are themselves arbitrary or circular.

      No, this is quite blatantly a form of uninformed and invalidly reasoned PR. Not to mention it’s probably false even on its own intended terms, as some of the comments above point out.

    2. If you read the whole long essay, and take some notes about claims made by each of his supporting references, the number of contradictions he introduces while presenting or quoting these various journalists, Islamic scholars etc. is shocking. He apparently doesn’t notice the contradictions.

      Maybe this could be a new “thread” below about his article (I will do some later).

  12. On the question of whether ISIS is Islamic, there’s no objectively ascertainable truth of the matter. A religion is, and can be, only what enough of its adherents say it is. Right now, there are different factions within Islam. It is not in the interests of sane people, Muslims or others, to promote the idea that a crazy faction is “true” Islam, and it is a common rhetorical trope, well understood by those using or hearing it, that the crazy factions of a religion are not “true” representatives of that religion. It is aspirational, not descriptive. It may not work, but it might; insisting that the crazy faction represents “true” Islam surely won’t.

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