Zubin Madon has the perfect response to the Islamophilic truth haters

June 9, 2017 • 10:00 am

I’ve written this headline exactly as PuffHo would have written it—if they had any rationality. In fact, by some twist of fate the subject of my post, an article by Zubin Madon, an engineer and humanist living in Bombay, India, did appear in the April 2016 PuffHo, and undercuts everything they have written denying the nasty bits of Islamic doctrine and the influence of that faith on terrorism. (PuffHo’s religion editor, Carol Kuruvilla, writes post after post telling us how wonderful Islam is and that we should ignore the man with the bomb behind the curtain).

Now Kuruvilla was editor in April of last year when Madon (who has a website on Atheist Republic, and probably would be dead if he lived in Bangladesh rather than Bombay) published this piece, and I’m surprised it got by, as it tells the truth about not just Islam, but the Regressive Left’s hypocritical coddling of that faith. Madon, who seems to know his Qur’an, is mad as hell about that coddling, and isn’t going to take it any more: viz., the title of his piece, “Terror has no religion—debunking the Regressive Left’s cliches.

Madon debunks a number of Regressive Leftist talking points about Islamist terrorism, and it’s worth saving this piece for future arguments. I’ll list the points and give Madon’s rebuttal for two of them (indented):

  • Terrorism has no religion. 

It must be a strange coincidence then, that attacks on abortion clinics in the United States are carried out by far-right Christian conservatives, and not Star Wars cultists; that Potterheads don’t lynch people for eating beef, but Hindutva extremists who consider the life of a bovine to be more sacred than that of a human being do. Similarly, when a zealot opens fire in a cafe yelling ‘Allahu-Akbar’, we can be quite certain it’s not a disgruntled Game of Thrones fan who just saw his favourite character snuffed out by the writers.

Yes, the vast majority of religious folks do not go about murdering people. But that does not absolve religious texts of inspiring the few extremists who do.
When Muslims donate to charity, we attribute their altruism to the third pillar of Islam. Why is it that when another Muslim acts as per the dozens of Quranic edicts which — cast terror in the hearts of disbelievers (3:151), expose them to eternal hellfire (4:56), advocate crucifixion & chopping off extremities (5:33), denounce taking Jews & Christians for friends (5:51), smite their necks and fingers (8:12), slay & besiege idol worshippers (9:5)— his/her actions have “nothing to do with religion”? I am not singling out Islamic scripture here. They are no more violent and bigoted than the Old Testament or the Manusmriti. However, we acknowledge that the inquisition was a product of medieval Christian dogma, and caste atrocities are a product of Hindu texts. Why then, do we excuse Islamic scripture of inspiring Islamists?

  • The verses are misinterpreted!
  • The verses have been taken out of context.
  • But the Quran has some very beautiful verses as well. 
  • It’s not religion, it’s lack of education, disparity. (a.k.a. Malala’s Fallacy). 
  • It’s American Imperialism, western foreign policy & the Iraq Wars that are responsible; not religion. (The Chomsky defence a.k.a.  Mehdi Hassan’s fallacy).

Apart from 12-16 million Christians, there are thousands of Bahai, Zoroastrians, Yazidis and Jews living in Islamic nations. If terrorism were simply a reaction to American imperialism, shouldn’t these minorities also form a fraction of terror outfits? Or are they miraculously shielded from NATO bombs and American policies that affect the middle-east? Surely one disgruntled Zoroastrian would cross the Iranian border and join Hezbollah?

This favourite cliche of the Regressive Left fails to explain another phenomenon— the “everyday terrorism” faced by millions of Muslims in the Islamic world. Was the spontaneous and gruesome lynching of Farkhunda outside an Afghan mosque a product of colonialism? Was the stoning of Roxanneh, the killing of Noor Malleki, the murder of secular bloggers in Bangladesh a result of US foreign policy? What does the violence unleashed against homosexuals, apostates, ‘blasphemers’, against Ahmedi and Hazara Muslims of Pakistan & Afghanistan (who are murdered by Sunni supremacists for not being ‘Muslim enough’) and the systemic genocide of ethnic minorities throughout the Islamic world, have to do with George Bush’s Iraqi misadventure? At some point, Bronze Age belief systems must be held accountable for the atrocities inflicted on its followers.

He then has a section on “The Left’s soft bigotry of lower expectations” before concluding:

. .  the Regressive Left has also failed liberal progressive Muslims like Asra Nomani, Irshad Manji and Maajid Nawaz, who are fighting to bring about reform at great personal risk. It is time for true (classical) liberals to stand up and take the fort back from the Left. We must show that it is possible to call out religious ideologies that inspires terror, while at the same time condemn the anti-Muslim bigotry of the far-right. For without identifying the carcinogen i.e. religious extremism, it is impossible to stem the affliction.

That point is as relevant today as it was a year ago. It still amazes me that those Muslim reformers have been demonized by the regressives, and that Nawaz and Ayaan Hirsi Ali were branded as “anti-Muslim extremists” by the increasingly risible Southern Poverty Law Center.

By the way, read Madon’s satirical piece on PuffHo: “Muslim fencer wears a hijab—You won’t believe what happens next!” (That’s the perfect PuffHo title!) It includes this fake quote from Hillary Clinton:

“Liberal, secular Muslims like Irshad Manji and Asra Nomani have ruined everything,” Clinton complains. “By refusing to conform to the ‘hijabi stereotype’, these westernised Muslim women have made it impossible for Left-leaning white saviours to covertly milk this stereotype, in our heroic battle against stereotyping.”


40 thoughts on “Zubin Madon has the perfect response to the Islamophilic truth haters

    1. In case anyone is interested, the table at the cite indicates ~10k deaths and ~13 wounded since 2001.

      “Christian on Muslim terror is minimal….”

      How do you know this? What is “minimal”, in your estimation? Although the folks at “thereligionofpeace” were diligent in enumerating Muslim on Christian violence they do not give numbers for this.

      1. Read the news; also google it and you will find occasional acts of terror of Christian on Muslim violence which pales in comparison to the reverse.

        1. Not disputing that. Just commenting that they don’t enumerate the Xtian on Muslim violence. Also, what’s “minimal”, in your estimation?

          It should be noted too that more than 7000 of the 10000 killed in that list were from a single country – Nigeria (Boko Haram). They are a particularly nasty group of Muslims but some of those listed as killed by them actually died in firefights between B.H. and government forces. That doesn’t excuse B.H. or changes the fact that they killed Xtians, but it does make that country’s problems a bit of an outlier.

  1. I suspect Madon’s piece slipped through the PuffHo filter because its title seems to imply endorsement of a position it’s actually critiquing.

  2. “When Muslims donate to charity, we attribute their altruism to the third pillar of Islam”

    This is a really good point, and it reminds me of how believers treat their god.

    According to religious believers, everything good that happens in the world is due to god’s goodness. But when terrible things happen, they never blame god. Even though logically if everything is god’s responsibility then all things, good or bad, must be at god’s decree.

    Considering that the authoritarian left treats Islam the same way that religious believers treat their god, it might follow that far left extremists hold “Islam is a peaceful religion” as some sort of article of faith, not the result of empiricism and rationality.

    1. It’s like thanking God for sparing you from the tornado. Why didn’t He just stop the tornado in the first place?

      Mysterious Ways has a lot to answer for.

      I think a prominent atheist should change their name to Mysterious Ways.

      1. Mysterious ways has nothing to answer for! That’s the whole point: they’re mysterious to us mere pathetic humans…one could even say baffling…or infuriating…or utterly incomprehensible to any slightly rational person….Or, well I think you know what I’m getting at 😛

    2. I was going to ask commenters what they think of this pillar (and of its analogs in some Christian denominations). It is good to donate to a cause you support, it is good to help people in urgent need, I also donate occasionally. But it seems wrong to me to make “You must donate to the poor” a principle. To me, it separates humanity into privileged virtuous people who donate and humiliated poor people reduced to foil of the virtuous people’s virtue.

      1. One comment I’ve heard from more reasonable Christians is that for charity to be truly good (in the religious sense) it ought to be anonymous, else it appear to be self-serving.

        1. That’s actually a rule of Jewish charity: the highest form of charity is done anonymously, with neither the beneficiaries ever knowing of the person responsible, nor anyone else. All other types of charity are lesser forms, and only completely anonymous and selfless charity can be considered the highest form.

  3. “Star Wars cultists” and “Potterheads” — not so sure those cosplay jihadists are all that benignant.

  4. To be slightly fair – that’s not Chomsky’s position: it is rather (a) we control some of the violence, so we should get our own house in order first and (b) because of (a) we encourage the “enemy of my enemy is my friend” scenarios, which can make Islamists attractive.

  5. I think that publications such as the Huffington Post continually argue that Islam is a religion of peace and downplay the Islamic component in much of terrorism is a fear that if the truth were spoken, a pogrom against Muslims may ensue. For them, denying the truth is better than the catastrophe that the truth may bring.

    1. “…a fear that if the truth were spoken, a pogrom against Muslims may ensue. ”

      Of course, they never show such trepidation with Jews, despite the history of pogroms against them the world over and their continued status in the US and many other countries as the population with the most hate crimes committed against them.

      You know, because, like, Israel. Or hierarchy of oppression (they don’t get to be on it). Or something. I’m sure they have a good reason for this cognitive dissonance.

  6. “Zubin Madon’s five perfect responses to Islamophilic truth haters — number four will shock you” would’ve been even more huffpoopy.

  7. I know, I’m Maru on this issue, but I dislike it when it is done to Sam Harris or others, too.

    It’s American Imperialism, western foreign policy & the Iraq Wars that are responsible; not religion. (The Chomsky defence a.k.a. Mehdi Hassan’s fallacy).

    (1) He’s usually lumped into Regressive Left, or seen as their Pope, but that is complete nonsense. Chomsky was an outspoken critic of postmodernism, and found unusually harsh words for it.

    (2) He acknowledges radical Islam and sees it as a problem.

    (3) He says that radicalization is often a product of US foreign policy, I recall things like funding and arming the Taliban (~Al Quaeda) so they fight the Russians; backing Iranian despotism until islamists overthrew the Shah of Persia; pumping money into Saudi Arabia who export the most firebrand versions of Islam on a massive scale; destabilization of the Middle East (Lybia) and leaving vacuums filled by extremists — perhaps funded by the very money the US gave to Saudi Arabia.

    Let me add that all of this is debatable, and there will be many devils in the details. My point is only for now to show that Chomsky’s position is within plausibility and that cannot be written off as obviously ridiculous.

    1. He says that radicalization is often a product of US foreign policy, I recall things like funding and arming the Taliban (~Al Quaeda) so they fight the Russians; backing Iranian despotism until islamists overthrew the Shah of Persia; pumping money into Saudi Arabia who export the most firebrand versions of Islam on a massive scale; destabilization of the Middle East (Lybia) and leaving vacuums filled by extremists — perhaps funded by the very money the US gave to Saudi Arabia.

      The Islamic doctrines of Jihad and Martyrdom are antecedent to all those occurrences. The power and influence of those ideas is what critics like Chomsky never acknowledge.

      1. As Aneris says, Chomsky “acknowledges radical Islam and sees it as a problem.”

        There is a deep irony for those who refuse to acknowledge the important role of US foreign policy in contributing to Islamist terrorism. Not only is our foreign policy the main thing we in the West have some control over that could lead to a reduction in terrorist violence, changing it is a pre-requisite for the reform of Islam we’d all like to see. So long as we contribute to the power of Islamist groups, either directly by killing innocent Muslims in the ME and thereby providing them a powerful recruitment tool, or indirectly by turning a blind eye to Saudi funding and logistical support for Islamists, we make it all the more difficult for reformers to succeed.

        1. From what I’ve read of Chomsky on this topic, he makes a mere nod to “radical Islam,” and then continues fulminating against US foreign policy.

          I wish I could be more charitable, but this has been his modus operandi for the past half century: critique US foreign policy when it’s worth critiquing… and then do some journalistic judo to explain how deranged ideologues in exotic lands are ultimately deranged by US foreign policy, and then critique it some more. Prime examples from bygone years include Cambodian communists and Serbian nationalists.

          With that said, our “turning a blind eye to Saudi funding and logistical support for Islamists” is indeed a serious problem. As is our history of enemy-of-our-enemy-must-be-our-friend “alliances” in the region. Saddam Hussein (against Iran) and the pre-Taliban (against the USSR) stand out as examples.

          There is no good solution. But I believe that speaking honestly about the link between jihadi terror and Islamic doctrine, rather than obfuscating it, will make one available sooner.

          1. But then that leaves one in the lurch: why are those doctrines able to recruit? And *there* is where the US (and Canadian, in the case of Yemen, for example) plays a role.

            (It also plays a role in the “get your own house in order first” remarks.)

        2. There is no good solution.

          I just thought I’d elaborate on this point a bit, because many people seem to think there is one: suspend and retract all military operations in the Middle East.

          If only oil wasn’t a supremely valuable natural resource it were that simple…

          1. I never claimed it was simple, just stating one of the big problems. At least you acknowledge our ME foreign policy is a lot about control of oil. Many people will not even do that.

            To bring about good solutions we need to do both things; stop pretending there’s no link between jihadi terror and Islamic doctrine, and stop pretending there’s no link between jihadi terror and our foreign policy and actions. But if we’re going to favor one of these, it should be the latter, as it is the one we have the most influence over and responsibility for.

  8. Excellent article. Too bad it will largely fall on deaf ears.

    I’ve reluctantly accepted the fact that the majority of nice, secular people in the West are intellectually incapable of separating the categories “oppressed Muslims” and “arrogant Islamists” from each other in their minds, and of understanding that jihadi violence is a religious phenomenon.

    Their default stance, that it is a merely political response to American foreign policy, holds up no matter what anyone says. Questions like, “What about the persecution of minorities and heretics in the Muslim world that have nothing to do with imperialism?” and “Why do they massacre civilians indiscriminately, whereas political terrorists of previous years—like anarchists and separatists—usually did not?” and “Shouldn’t there be more Latin American terrorists who are upset with the U.S.?” have no effect whatsoever. They’ll hand-waive those questions away until their arms fall off.

    Fifty years from now people like Zubin Madon will be writing the same cogent article, and people like [insert your favorite anti-imperialist] will still be ignoring it. Depressing.

    1. Yep. People like that are what I call “two city” types. Losing one city to a terrorist with WMDs won’t convince them, it will take losing at least two.

  9. It seems likely that Bush’s Iraq misadventure exacerbated the terrorist problem, but is surely is not the sole or even main/primary cause.

  10. Yep more nails in the coffin that can’t be buried, simply, the hole in the ground is not big enough. As long as the reg left keep leaning on their shovels we have a body going off, offending any sense of decency to the victims and the motivations of their killers.

  11. I just looked at the Southern Poverty Law Center’s page on Ayaan Hirsi Ali, and it seems to exaggerate the degree to which the told untruths to the Dutch immigration authorities.

    It is true (as SPLC states) that she attended her wedding contrary to her earlier accounts, but it is untrue that she had never witnessed a civil war, and while she left the Dutch Parliament amidst controversy (generated by the discovery of these untruths), it is an overstatement to say she left in “disgrace”.
    The Second Balkenende cabinet in Holland collapsed due to their continued backing of Ali (after her untruths on her immigration application were revealed), but she continued to engender support from many in Holland.

    1. Indeed that party that was forced to resign was the anti-Ali leader, so that especially makes the SPLC statements really really problematic.

      1. The SPLC exaggerates or even makes up stuff for nearly every issue these days. Nothing they say can really be trusted unless corroborated by objective sources.

        Hell, to get their number for the supposed rise of “hate crimes” against Muslims after Trump’s election, they counted tweets — tweets! — that disagreed with Islam.

  12. This whole matter of suicide bombers and Islam seems to stem from the thoughts of one Sayyid Qutb. An Islamic philosopher, teacher etc. who was executed in Egypt in the 1950’s; he had been imprisoned for attempting to assassinate a member of Colonel Nasser’s government. What he apparently thought, and this has come to be the bible, or koran, of Bin Laden, Al Quaeda, the Taliban, ISIS etc all of whom were Sunni Muslims, Salafists, as are the vast majority of all suicide bombers, ‘suicide in Islam is haram, forbidden. However, if you use your body as a weapon, and die in the process, that is halal, permitted’. And the gates of paradise await!

    It might not be written in the Koran, or appear in the hadiths but that philosophy is now firmly lodged in the brains of those who haven’t learned to think straight.

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