Defenders of Islam ‘tragically wrong’
Mike Dobbins, above, first came to my notice around Easter, 2014, when he penned a piece for Christian Post, drawing attention to the newly-founded Freedom From Atheism Foundation (FFAF).
The article – entitled “Freedom from Religion? How about Freedom from Atheism” – began thus:
This Easter the Freedom From Religion Foundation (FFRF) posted another offensive, and historically inaccurate, sign touting Jesus as ‘a myth’. However, did you know an organization exists to counter the FFRF and other intolerant atheists? If you or someone you know has been the victim of militant, confrontational atheism then the place to turn is the Freedom From Atheism Foundation (FFAF).
Being a firm believer in getting to know one’s enemies better, I did a little digging into Dobbins’ background. Apart from learning that Dobbins is the author of The Case Against Atheism and Atheism as a Religion, I discovered that he had a bad case of the hots for Islam.
But all that’s changed. This week he announced that his love affair with the “Religion of Peace” is now over, and that folk he attacked for being “Islamophobes” were right all along. He begins a lengthy piece by saying:
For years I was an apologist for Islam, as regrettably, many still remain. I only read books and believed those who painted Islam in a peaceful, glowing light. I made excuses for radical Muslims and lived in a flood of denial that religious teachings could still, in this modern age of drones and clones, motivate a person to commit evil. I criticized the numerous atheists including Ayaan Hirsi Ali, Sam Harris, and Bill Maher warning of the dangers inherent in Islamic doctrines, recklessly labeling them Islamophobes.
Today I’m writing to say I’m sorry, I apologize, and I ask for your forgiveness. We who have blindly defended Islam and called you Islamophobes are tragically wrong.
My mind first began to change last May when I read an interview by Sam Harris with Ayaan Hirsi Ali in which she addresses the misapplication of the term Islamophobia. This article, along with the seeds atheists planted over the years urging me to do more research, motivated me to delve into the religion. I read the Quran, many Hadith, the biography of Muhammad, the history of Jihad, and Islamic law. This is what I learned:
The critics of Islam are right. Islam is intrinsically, alarmingly violent, hateful and oppressive on a scale greater than all other major religions combined. To say that radical Islamists are motivated to commit atrocities and embrace oppression based on religious doctrine is the understatement of the century.
I, like most defenders of Islam, was ignorant, naïve, and in denial. I wrongly assumed all holy books have enough good messages to offset the bad. I wrongly assumed that, like Jesus, Muhammad promoted peace, love, and non-violence. I wrongly assumed criticism of Islam equates to criticism of all Muslims.
While I apologize to those wrongly labeled Islamophobes, my biggest apology is owed to Muslims. Muslims have needlessly suffered under oppressive Islamic religious and political doctrines as thousands of uninformed smearests like myself rushed to judge and silence critics of Islam. By not acknowledging the Islamic link to radical violence and hate, smearests have unwittingly allowed it to spread. The smearests, denialists, and the naïve have, unknowingly, turned their back on moderate Muslims and a reformed, peaceful Islam.
While we smearests have obsessed over shielding Islam from criticism, so-called Islamophobes were courageously standing up to oppressive Islamic doctrines and practices. While we smearests were unwittingly misinforming the public and deluding ourselves by not making the connection between Islamic religious teachings and Islamic hate and violence, so-called Islamophobes were connecting the dots and looking for solutions.
While we smearests were busy tarnishing critics as bigots and racists, so called Islamophobes were busy defending equality of women, gays, and minorities, protecting free speech and religion, and advocating an end to cruel and unusual punishments.
Labeling every critic of Islam an Islamophobe has seriously diminished the smearests credibility. By grouping valid critics of Islam with bigots we water downed the meaning of Islamophobe and appear cruel and repressive of free speech.
He goes on to brand Islam as:
A man-made religion (emphasis on the man part) and like all man-made religions, has serious moral shortcomings and requires rigorous criticism. Rather than self-censoring and abiding by Islamic blasphemy laws, we should be defending the importance of free speech, encouraging Islam to purge itself of blasphemy laws, and demonstrating the benefits free speech can bring to Islam.
And he adds:
Now, we smearests must make up for lost time and lost chances. We must double our efforts to criticize oppressive Islamic practices, doctrines, and regimes and demand reform. We must embrace Muslims who truly are moderate, acknowledge the faults in Islam, and are striving for coexistence, peace, equality, human rights, and freedom of expression and worship. All non-Muslims can support Muslims best by doing the same.