Reformist Muslim

Exploring possibilities for the future of Islam and other thoughts

Location: London, United Kingdom

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

The Bogeyman Of Eurabia

Excellent piece in today's Times by David Aaronovitch on 'sensible people saying ridiculous things about Islam'. He makes the argument that while not a fan of the term Islamophobia since being a labelled by 'some of the more intellectually challenged Muslim pressure groups', items such as last week's Spectator are creating an unjust fear of Islam.

Of course Aaronovitch does not come from a completely relativist perspective and suggests that there is a middle ground where 'dialogue and debate can both exist alongside a muscular defence of certain values' such as democracy and human rights (in particular women's rights).

I tend to agree with him and would add that the 'clash of civilisations' discussion merely plays into the hands of extremists whose mission is to convince normal, moderate Muslims that ultimately they can never live in a liberal, democratic society without facing racism and prejudice and that the answer lies in creating some sort of utopian Islamic state constructed on a false reading of history and a vivid imagination.

Therefore as Aaronovitch says, the clash of civilisations is a self-fulfilling theory and western pundits so eager to fight extremism must be extremely careful if they are not to unwittingly perpetuate it.


Anonymous bananabrain said...

one of the things aaronovitch also doesn't mention (in an otherwise pretty good piece), probably because it's not on his radar, is that muslims have an important contribution to make to UK society. in fact this is true of muslims in western society in general, namely the idea that citizens of all persuasions, faiths and ethnicities have responsibilities as well as rights. in this, their natural allies (as in the matter of religious dress and other outward manifestations of difference) are the jewish and sikh (and probably christian) communities, not the left which, for all its bleating about human rights, very rarely notices that "freedom from" can be confused with "freedom to", leading to complete moral relativism. not only this, but its current alliance with the muslim "peanut gallery" is merely an alliance of convenience based around the principle that "my enemy's enemy is my friend".

no, the area where members of faith communities can really make a difference is in calling for human responsibilities. in this, their natural allies are ironically towards the individualist end of the political spectrum. in fact it was the american writer p.j. o'rourke (who is hardly known for left-wing views!) who i once heard suggesting that the US needed a "statue of responsibility" in san francisco harbour to go with the one in new york. rather a good idea i thought.

i just discovered your blog today, thanks to johann hari. am enjoying it very much.



2:06 pm, November 15, 2005  
Blogger reformist_muslim said...

Hey bananabrain, glad to hear that your liking the blog.

I agree with you that one would think that people of faith would find their natural political allies in other religious people.

Unfortunately, one of the hallmarks of being a 'true' believer also seems to a belief that one is in possession of the whole truth.

Ironically, I don't think that most religious people act on these views in their everyday lives which sort of links in with my silent majority post.

I have to go right now, will try adding more thoughts on this later.

5:43 pm, November 15, 2005  
Anonymous bananabrain said...

needing to know that you are the only ones with the whole truth is a mark of insecurity - we are not a proselytising religion; this is because we believe that there are "many roads up the mountain", as the sufis put it. show me a religion that evangelises aggressively and looks to convert the marginalised and i'll show you people with a problematic agenda. we're absolutely not allowed to set out to do so - although we do accept converts if they're really set on it! belief in exclusive correctness is quite simply a form of chauvinism. my being right does not exclude you also being right.



2:17 pm, November 16, 2005  
Blogger reformist_muslim said...

I agree with you and I think that judging by Thabet's book review, this is the broad argument that Keith Ward makes in his new book 'The Case For Religion'. Not sure if i'll find the time to read it soon but it seems interesting.

4:40 pm, November 16, 2005  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I hardly believe that Messr. Satchi could have come up with a better catch-phrase than "Islamophobia"

4:38 pm, November 21, 2005  

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