There Are Good Reasons to Not Date a Muslim Man

I came across this video the other day, and, welp, see for yourself (transcript).

To get this out of the way: Karim is not a “Muslim name.” It is an Arabic name that Muslims name their children, since Karim is one of the 99 names of Allah, but the word and name predate Islam.

As for her reason to not date this Karim, obviously, since most Muslims don’t behead people or beat their wives, not wanting to associate with people like that is a bad reason to not want to date a Muslim.

There are some good reasons why this woman might want to walk away, though, that aren’t based on less-warranted stereotypes, reasons that have to do with the realities of the ways in which sexism, misogyny, sex-negativity, patriarchy, and purity culture manifest themselves Muslim-dominated cultures.

In short, mid-life crises come early and hit harder for non-practicing Muslim men. Continue reading “There Are Good Reasons to Not Date a Muslim Man”

There Are Good Reasons to Not Date a Muslim Man

#‎WhoIsMuhammad‬? A Human Being

Muslims all over the world are using #WhoIsMuhammad to express their feelings about the man who founded their religion. The hashtag arose partially in reaction to the horrifying events in France last week and mostly because Muslims and Islam are generally not exactly very positively perceived.

I understand what Muslims are trying to do with the hashtag. Really, I do. I remember what it was like to be a Muslim in a hostile environment, especially in the direct wake of terrorist acts committed by Islamist types.

However, if the various traces of him that we have left are to be accepted, Muhammad was not a peacenik hippie who wanted everyone to love each other forever. There was much more to him than that. Continue reading “#‎WhoIsMuhammad‬? A Human Being”

#‎WhoIsMuhammad‬? A Human Being

Will Harris & Aslan Let Islam & Muslims Speak for Themselves?

Note of Clarification: My semi-facetious interpretation of Quranic verses and hadith should not be taken as an accurate depiction of how all (or perhaps any) Muslims interpret their religious texts.

Reza Aslan thinks that Islam can inspire no ill.

it seems like a logical thing to say that people get their values from their scriptures. It’s just intrinsically false. That’s not what happens. People do not derive their values from their scriptures — they insert their values into their scriptures.

Meanwhile, Sam Harris thinks Islam can inspire no good.

But the task isn’t as simple as discrediting the false doctrines of Muslim “extremists,” because most of their views are not false by the light of scripture. A hatred of infidels is arguably the central message of the Koran.

I’d like to see both of them try to us those arguments outside of an interview with a Western media outlet.

A Muslim: “My devotion to Allah inspired me to do charity work with non-Muslims.”
Sam Harris: ” But if you actually took your faith seriously, you’d behead those infidels, not help them.”

Another Muslim: “I behead these non-Muslims in the name of Allah!”
Reza Aslan: “Actually, you didn’t do that in the name of Allah. You did it because [insert any and every motive besides religion here].”

Continue reading “Will Harris & Aslan Let Islam & Muslims Speak for Themselves?”

Will Harris & Aslan Let Islam & Muslims Speak for Themselves?

LGBT Muslims: Past & Present Realities, Not “An Oxymoron”

a person in sunglasses flashing the peace sign. to their right is a sing that says "LGBT MUSLIMS - YES, WE EXIST"

The weekend before last, I gave a talk in Akron at the second annual Sexy Secular Conference on the history of LGBT folks in societies dominated by Muslims. The title was Queerness and Islam: A Longer History Than You Think in deference to the fact that the non-cis and/or non-hetero side of history is often erased in popular discourse. Such erasure is especially prevalent in areas where very little in the way of LGBT rights and acceptance has been achieved, but is hardly limited to such regions.

The fact that LGBTQ people exist and always have existed seems to miss many. I found out just how much my talk was needed in the weeks leading up to and following the event. The response to the topic of my talk from the atheists of non-Muslim backgrounds to my talk was often, “Isn’t that an oxymoron?”

Whether meant in earnest or in jest, saying that there can be no such thing as an LGBT Muslim is to be complicit in harmful erasure that supports the hateful message of religious fundamentalists.

Continue reading “LGBT Muslims: Past & Present Realities, Not “An Oxymoron””

LGBT Muslims: Past & Present Realities, Not “An Oxymoron”

When & How Criticizing Islam Takes a Turn for the Racist

In response to my posting of Debunking the “Islam is Not a Race!” Argument on Facebook, I received the following question.

Since “race” is an imaginary thing anyway, the use of racism seems at the same time apt and inappropriate. Is the author’s message that because we tend to stereotype Muslims the same way we do “races” that this is racism or equal to racism?

I can’t speak for the author of the original piece, but I can speak for myself when I say that the premises behind this question render me unable to choose either answer posited by the asker.

It’s because race is a real thing that criticism of Islam has the potential to become racialized. In other words, it’s not that simple.

Continue reading “When & How Criticizing Islam Takes a Turn for the Racist”

When & How Criticizing Islam Takes a Turn for the Racist

Bill Maher / Sam Harris vs. Ben Affleck / Reza Aslan: I Choose Neither

As he is rather fond of racial and gender stereotypes masquerading as “humor”, I am not exactly the biggest fan of Bill Maher. I couldn’t seem to avoid mentions of him this weekend, when he, along with Sam Harris, disagreed with Ben Affleck about Muslims and Islam (I’m with my fellow FtBer Avicenna on what Maher said).

There was also what happened last week with Maher on his show, Real Time. My EXMNA colleagues Sarah and Muhammad debunked Reza Aslan’s response to him in defense of Muslims over at The Friendly Atheist.

I would be remiss if I were to continue without a reminder that more nuanced discussions and arguments about this very topic have happened and will continue to happen among people far more qualified to talk about the issue. As the participants aren’t famous white men making soundbite-ready generalizations on network television, you probably won’t hear about them and most people will continue to not care about them.

Continue reading “Bill Maher / Sam Harris vs. Ben Affleck / Reza Aslan: I Choose Neither”

Bill Maher / Sam Harris vs. Ben Affleck / Reza Aslan: I Choose Neither

Four Myths About 9/11 & Muslims I’m Tired of Hearing

Palestinians didn’t celebrate 9-11; that was footage from 1991.
This one is trotted out often by sympathetic, well-meaning folks who want to believe that no one could celebrate a tragedy like 9/11. They’re wrong: there is no evidence to support the claim that CNN was conspiring to make Palestinians look bad by airing old footage and plenty to support the claim that the footage was taken right after the 9/11 attacks occurred.

It makes sense to profile people who appear to adhere to Islam since 9-11 was planned and carried out by Muslims.
Yes, I’m looking at you, Sam Harris. It’s comforting to think that terrorists wear specific garb or all look a certain way and that, therefore, targeting people who look or dress a certain way is helpful in preventing terrorism. If only those darn politically-correct simpering liberals would let us, amirite? Except, if you take a look at the hijackers, what do you see? No long beards — or beards at all, for the most part. They look like any number of brown men in the US. Furthermore, they dressed in “normal” garb, as in pants and shirts rather than robes and turbans (most turban-wearers are Sikh rather than Muslim, anyway).

Muslims didn’t condemn 9-11.
At least within the United States, nearly every major Muslim org and mosque put out a condemnation of 9/11, just as they have done with every other major terrorist act. Why wasn’t that better publicized, then? Ask yourself what tends to make the news especially after a terrorist attack. “Muslim Group Condemns Terrorism” is either going to be ignored entirely or buried because it’s not sexy, violent, offensive, or otherwise attention-grabbing. Furthermore, Muslims aren’t exactly a huge percentage of the American population.

Some claim that Muslims should have gone further in order to make their condemnation of terrorism clear and public, with a march, perhaps, or a giant protest of some kind. The problem is that, especially right after 9/11, most of us Muslims were, frankly, scared shitless. We faced potential and actual violence from our fellow Americans for a violent act that killed several of our own. Organizing a giant public spectacle to appease those who automatically believed us to be terrorists wasn’t exactly the first thing on our minds when we couldn’t go about our daily lives without fear. Later, we had plenty to fear from the government: the Patriot Act was used to falsely accuse, incarcerate, and persecute innocent Muslims; the government lied to us despite our cooperation in anti-terror measures on at least one documented occasion.

Personally, I believe that people are innocent until proven guilty. While I have my issues with Islam and agree that there are problems with the Quran that lend themselves to being used to justify horrendous violence, that’s no reason to automatically assume that every Muslim is pro-terror unless they’ve participated in a march to “prove” that they aren’t. For some of us, such demands simply add insult to injury. Muslim Americans are just as targeted by Al Qaeda and its ilk as any other American: Bin Laden himself said so*. If someone who is arguably the face of terror tells you that Muslim Americans aren’t his people and you still believe them to be his supporters, well, I don’t know what more I can say. I don’t think it’s helpful in fighting terrorism to lump Muslims who aren’t terrorists in with terrorists, but hey, what do I know?

It was disrespectful for Muslims to want to build the Ground Zero Mosque.
For the record, the building is a community center called Park51 and wasn’t built on Ground Zero, so the term “Ground Zero Mosque” is a deliberate troll. For many years, there have been mosques close to the World Trade Center site in New York City. There was a Muslim prayer room in the World Trade Center itself. New York is a multi-cultural city and most of its residents understand that. If Muslim Americans who aren’t at all affiliated with terrorism aren’t allowed to build community centers anywhere near Ground Zero, then by that logic, no churches of any denomination should be allowed anywhere near reproductive health centers.

* I was unable to find a link to it, but I do recall seeing a Bin Laden video at some point where he basically said that it’s cool to kill American Muslims because they’re on the wrong side of things. Even if I’m misremembering, Al-Qaeda has generally been fine with killing Muslims who are in the way of their non-Muslim targets and considers all Americans a target, no exceptions stated.

Update: Astute commenter Nathan found a link to a transcript of a Bin Laden tape where he says

Anyone who aids America or help it, including Arab leaders, or anyone who fights alongside them or provides them with bases or any kind of support, even if it was only verbal, in order to kill Muslims in Iraq, that is a Muslim that he is no longer a Muslim and therefore he will be a legitimate target.

Four Myths About 9/11 & Muslims I’m Tired of Hearing

Zombie Muhammad vs. Zealot

Last Halloween, an atheist named Ernest Perce dressed up as Zombie Muhammad and joined a parade in Pennsylvania that also included a Zombie Pope and Zombie Jesus. A Muslim man, Talaag Elbayomy, decided that this was so offensive to him that he had to take action; he claimed that he thought there were laws against offending him. According to the officer who responded to the incident, Elbayomy admitted to initiating physical contact with Perce  and thus should be found guilty of the assault. Furthermore, the incident was caught on camera.

So Elbayomy was convicted, right? Continue reading “Zombie Muhammad vs. Zealot”

Zombie Muhammad vs. Zealot