On Hate Speech
About more than a year ago, a young lady at a prestigious high school contacted me with a set of questions about Islam. She was taking a graduation credit course for advanced students. She had to do a major research project paper. In planning such a project, she wrote a set of questions about Islam. She sent those questions to different researchers who are defending Islam, as well as to researchers like me who are critical of Islam.
One of her questions was: What do you believe “Jihad” is? Well, what difference does it make if I believe “Jihad” is good, or bad, or mean, or generous? The question was rather worded poorly. It was more accurate to ask what does Islam teach about Jihad? That is to say what meaning(s) of Jihad we find when we research the Qur’an and Hadith. What I believe Jihad is has no consequences and remains a subjective matter, and has no importance at all. What Islam teaches Jihad is in its authentic sources is of most importance. I clarified my point to this young student, and proceeded to quote from Qur’an and Hadith to decipher the meaning(s) of Jihad in Islam.
Another young man, a university student, contacted me a while back. He was asking why I am an Islamophobe! I proceeded to explain to him what a phobia is, what critical thinking is, and explained that criticism of Islam is not a phobia. It is a legitimate critical analysis of a belief system called Islam. When someone criticizes Christianity, no one calls him/her “Christophobe”. When someone criticizes Hinduism, no one calls him/her “Hinduphobe”. It is clear, then, that the word “Islamophobe” is used to malign those who criticize Islam, with the aim of shutting them down. But what is the reason for that? In a free world of ideas, one has to be able to express legitimate criticism against any religion or belief-system.
That young university student, also, sent me some questions to answer. Some of them were intended trickery, no more. That student was a Muslim. One of his questions was something like, I am working from my memory recollection here, “Why do you attack Muslims and Islam in your writings?” Needless to say this question was actually two questions and not just one – Why do you attack Muslims in your writings? And why do you attack Islam in your writings? I tried to explain to this young man that his logic has flaws in it, and that he needed to make a clear distinction between Muslims and Islam. Muslims are human beings. They are my family, friends, and partners. Why do I need to attack them in my writings? I do not. Islam, on the other hand, is a belief system. It should be subjected to critical scrutiny, just like any other human belief systems, bar none. In my writings I do subject certain Islamic beliefs to objective critical analysis. Islam is a misogynistic ideological system by nature. The Qur’an itself teaches that a man can beat a woman (Qur’an 4:34). Muhammad himself, in a Hadith, said that Most of Hell’s residents are women. Do I need to keep my mouth shut about how evil Islam is towards women? They are half the society for crying out loud, and I am supposed to keep my mouth shut because some Muslim will call me an Islamophobe if I talk against Islam’s treatment of women? Off course I will not. I will write criticizing Islam when I have the time, and the Muslim geniuses can call me an Islamophobe from now untill eternity.
Human are to be respected. Belief systems should and must be subjected to critical analytical scrutiny. If a belief system is bad, one needs to say it is bad. If a religion teaches that men are smarter than women, that women can be beaten, that children can be beaten till they establish daily prayer, that a man should inherit twice the woman’s, that men should always have an upper hand over women, that that religion should have an authority over all other humans, then such a religion should and must be criticized. Such a belief system belongs to another age. You see, Muhammad succeeded in the seventh century because there was no ruling government where he lived. Might was right. He used this power fact to attract men from many tirbes. He established groups of gangsters, to use a modern day terminology, and was sending them on raids and ghazwas against other peaceful tribes. Those gangsters attacked such tribes with force and greed. They killed the adult men and enslaved women and children, and took over all the belongings of such tribes.
To create an excuse for Muhammad’s attacks against such tribes, he told his bandits that we can attack people who are not Muslims. The fact that a tribe is not Muslim is never a good reason to attack it. Let us say you believe in a religion called “Mari”, and I believe in a completely different religion called “Ari”. Do you see any justification for you attacking me or me attacking you just because we have different faiths? A simple answer is “No”. Yet, this was Muhammad’s animosity excuse against others. He sent his gangsters to attack others because the others were not Muslims. Yet, some Muslims have no shame and call people critical of Muhammad and Islam “Islamophobes”. The fact is any decent human being of our age should criticize Muhammad for being a war monger, a thief, a bandit, a robber, a rapist, a thug, a misogynist.
Any decent human being should be critical of Islam because it is a belief system that assumes its supremacy over all other beliefs. It assumes its supremacy against all other humans who do not believe in Islam.
“Hate speech” is what it is. Criticizing Muhammad and Islam do not belong to it.