#AnApostatesExperience: A Plea to Reconsider Your Love for Reza Aslan

Remember when Sam Harris said a misogynistic thing and doubled-down on it by talking about how he has a wife, a mother, and a female editor whose contributions to his work he highly values? Most white liberal atheists saw that for what it was and mocked him. It’s the “I have a black friend” argument.

Reza Aslan did a version of that yesterday regarding #AnApostatesExperience, the hashtag we at EXMNA started.

He utterly missed the point and let the world know that he thinks marrying a Christian woman is part of what automatically makes him tolerant of apostasy. You’d think someone who claims to be a scholar of Islam would know for a Muslim man to marry a Christian women is a more-than-appropriate action as per orthodox, mainstream Islam. His form of interfaith marriage is hardly anything indicative of a likelihood that he’d be sympathetic to the plight of ex-Muslims.

As for his Sufism and study of comparative religions, that is almost as much of a non-sequitor. Sufis may not be widely loved among non-Sufi Muslims, but they are probably less likely to be considered to be inherently opposed to Islam in the way that an ex-Muslim would be. There are plenty of Muslims who tolerate Sufis and members of other religions far more than ex-Muslims. As with any group, the hatred for a perceived traitor generally far exceeds that of random outsiders.

Besides this latest actions, there are issues with the way in which he promotes his view of Islam. I’ve already linked to Sarah and Muhammad’s excellent takedown of the factual issues with Reza Aslan’s more recent statements.

I read his No god But God when I was experiencing doubts but trying to stay Muslim. Even then, I found his trumping up of some highly uncommon “liberal”/”progressive” interpretations of Islam to be a bit disingenuous. His views hardly represent any significant percentage of Muslims, let alone many. I very much am in favor of promoting reformist voices but not when they pretend the situation is anything other than it is or obscure the truth in any way.

Jamie Kilstein's positive post of Reza Aslan's praise for his book #Newsfail

The lack of consideration of ex-Muslims from left-wing types is why many ex-Muslims find ourselves in a very uncomfortable position. It’s not as if we don’t see the xenophobia and racism behind much of the professed right-wing sympathy for us. At the same time, at least there is overt sympathy of any kind there. It doesn’t hurt that there is also money to hire bodyguards for when things get out of hand and power that can amplify our voices.

I made a conscious choice to avoid going neo-con, but I honestly don’t feel too angry that there are ex-Muslims in genuine danger who go that way. I feel more angry about those atheists who are the first to step up with criticisms of Christian apologia but give Reza Aslan a free pass. Where else can ex-Muslims go when we are forgotten by white liberal/progressive types?

For all these reasons, my plea is that white progressive/liberal atheists reconsider Reza Aslan. If you fall into that camp and think he’s great but don’t appreciate right-wing Christian or Republican apologists of a similar bent, I would hope that you at least reconsider your position.

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#AnApostatesExperience: A Plea to Reconsider Your Love for Reza Aslan
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24 thoughts on “#AnApostatesExperience: A Plea to Reconsider Your Love for Reza Aslan

      1. Then don’t include it here. Not only is it a complete misrepresentation of Sam Harris’s own opinion, it’s kind of ironic that several paragraphs down you lament on why there aren’t too many atheists and white liberals defending exmuslims and attacking Islam.

          1. Thank You…Please Continue By the way what is Your Actual target and how much you have achieved..Your Budget is Covered or are you feeling the shortage..

          2. Why Should i mean for you..You Know better..Everyone in the life is on mission..By the way you are on the Journey of dream with no Certain destination…

        1. Not every Arabic word means Islam and muslim name. Arabic is a language and there are words that can be used as name. Please first brighten your knowledge before you post something in public. Or else it shows your ignorance.

  1. 4

    I admit, my former <3 for Reza was mostly because he was young sexy nice guy type gettin' interviewed on the J-Stew show, back when I was less annoyed by how moderate they both are. At this point, I only live to get radical. And not like the surf nazis in Point Break. Anyhow, I dropped him cold turkey when he started talking tired shit about my atheist peeps. I can understand why anyone would beef with the prominent public face of us, but the language he used was old, lazy, repellent.

  2. 5

    Interesting that Reza identifies himself as a Sufi, one of the more malleable sects within Islam. I have always been skeptical about the sincerity of Reza’s reversion to Islam. He enjoys being the spokesperson for moderate Islam. I wonder how much Islam he practices in his day-to-day life?

    In any event, Reza is not a reformer. He’s a defender of the status quo. And his so-called scholarship is a joke.

  3. 8

    Oh…I don’t know if you saw him on All In with Chris Hayes on Monday. Not impressed. He was going over a poll in Egypt that Sam Harris had apparently brought up on Bill Maher’s show. Something or another about Egyptians being largely opposed to apostasy. (Sorry, I’m just taking a short break from work and can’t look up the details.) His “rebuttal” was that the same poll also showed Egyptians also being a majority in favor of religious freedom. His take* was, “If that sounds like a contradiction, that’s because it is!” My thought was like, “Or…there is nuance here. Maybe it’s that they are OK, for example, with Christians who have always been Christians being Christians. Maybe the problem is limited with Muslims who convert to another religion or deconvert altogether. It’s religious freedom, with some exceptions.”

    * On a side note, he was saying that that is all part of religion, without a hint of this being a problem. But, then, he was also saying he condemns actions and not beliefs…as if one’s beliefs in no way factor into their actions.

    Also, I’m quite disappointed in Chris Hayes for criticizing Maher for discussing Islam with a panel of non-Muslims. Yet, the only Muslim I’ve seen him bring into the discussion has been Aslan. *slow-clap*

    1. 8.1

      Reza got the rebuttal wrong. The 75% of Egyptians supporting religious freedom was a question about religious freedom for non-Muslims (not about the freedom of Muslims to leave the religion). In other words, 25% of Egyptians believe Egyptian Christians should not have the freedom to practice Christianity (while 75% favor giving them such freedom). There is no contradiction between that and the 64% favoring death for apostasy.

      Reza was called out for his mistake on Twitter. Let’s see if he continues to mislead with that statistic (I bet he will).

  4. 10

    Interesting series. I really don’t know much about this topic, but it hits all the social justice atheist points – religious oppression, colonial oppression, bigotry, racism, sexism. So keep writing, I say.

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