Saturday, July 21, 2007

The Fruitless Fight against Evolution

Every so often I am confronted by Muslims who (I suspect) take their ideological cues from fundamentalist Christians and leap towards the conclusion that Darwinian evolution is a refutation of the Islamic account of creation. A certain Turkish author, writing under the pen-name Harun Yahya, has focussed this sentiment with his books and articles on the subject, with particular zeal for attacking Darwin himself. That Darwin looked forward to the extermination of the Turks probably doesn't help matters.

Anyone with a high-school science education (which is what I had when I first encountered "Evolution Deceit") can tell that my brother Muslim is writing like an ignoramus. No, evolution does not contradict the 2nd law of thermodynamics, so please stop making yourself look like an ass.

More disappointing, and more amazing, are the number of intelligent, educated Muslims who buy into this tripe. I'm not talking about illiterate people trying to eke out a living in the deserts of Sindh or the Sahara - I'm talking about people with university degrees, even advanced medical and scientific degrees, who implicitly accept that there is a dichotomy between accepting that all the scientific evidence supports evolution, and believing in the purposeful creation of the universe by the Almighty God.

Of course, we are talking about an omnipotent, supernatural God, so He can do whatsoever He likes, and if He wants to create the earth as we know it intantaneously, de novo, He could. Maybe He did. If God did, however, He left around a lot of evidence that species evolve, diverge, and change - this is the logical basis for so much of our modern research in molecular biology - we could not properly discuss or seek out new hypothesis without, for example, the idea of a "conserved gene," i.e., one that can be found replicated with high fidelity within members of a taxonomic category. We know where to look for clues to human biology because we know our relationship to other creatures so well. Similar copies of a gene that is vital to life itself can be found in both snails and humans . . . but one that codes for hair-follicle cell differentiation is more likely to be found in a lemur, and an even more similar one is likely to be found in an orangutan.

For the purposes of our work with living things, knowing that is far more useful than trying to judge the intentions of God, which He has already said are beyond our ken.

Do these people really think that God literally took clay, and literally fashioned it into man? That seems like a lot of work for an omnipotent being who, when He declares a thing, says only unto to "Be," and it is.


If you read it in this way, the text will have no meaning to you, and you will be caught between an untenable position and the loss of your faith. The Qur'anic account is not meaningless, however. In it we see that the entire human race is descended from only two people - that we are one inter-related family. We see that there are two sins that will lead to our destruction - arrogance, as with Iblis, and greed, which compelled the first humans to disobey their Lord. Finally, we see a clear separation between the material and the supernatural - we are clay, but the djins and the angels are smokeless fire.

We can cling to irrationality, or we can accept the clear signs that God has laid out for us. That is the choice - creationism vs. evolution is a distraction.

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Sunday, July 15, 2007

The fascinating world of Anti-Islam

Recently, I've developed a morbid fascination with Anti-Islam blogs and websites. Some might use the term Islamophobia, but as the Wikipedia Talk Page on the subject illustrates, the term is so relative that by itself it is probably as meaningless as the term "Islamist" is (in its current popular usage, that is).

Consequently, I'm settling on Anti-Islam, since that is, after all, what these sites are about. You may have seen them - they throw around terms like dhimmi and jihad, and try to sound impressive in their familiarity with Islamic discourse by chucking in Arabic words that the average Muslim has likely never even heard. Some of them are by avowed Zionists, others by disgruntled ex-Muslims with a chip on their shoulder and some spare change for a domain name.

The basic thesis: Islam is an inherently dangerous ideology bent on bloodthirsty warfare with the ultimate aim of global domination and worldwide totalitarian oppression. As a consequence of this conclusion they propose that Muslims must be persuaded away from it, and that anyone who defends it should be declared an enemy.

Are they hate speech? Should they be shut down? Yes to the first, no to the second.

I say this because in my perusal of their content I have learned a great deal about my religion - because every time I see their sites, I check their claims against the Qur'an, and, fairly reliably, am forced to look up from the pages and reflect upon the volume of garbage that can be so easily put on the Internet.

One could easily dispute the claims they make point-by-point, starting with the simple fact that the Qur'an makes no commands to unprovoked violence, and repeatedly encourages the Muslims to relent in pursuing their aggressors.

This is fine for them, however, for their goal is not, primarily, to convert the Muslim millions (most of whom don't read English, when they can read at all) - their target audience is tolerant Westerners. More important to the Anti-Islam crowd than their "debunking" of Islam, is their desire to "prove" that not only is their understanding of Islam the "correct" one, but that it is the one the Muslims subscribe to.

It is easier to persuade your countrymen to inflict slaughter when you can convince them that their victims are really avowed combatants.

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Thursday, July 12, 2007

Inescapable Questions

Most people don't know who Alija Izetbegovic is.

When you meet one, please let me know and I will tell them.

I bought this book in a haze of pre-vacation euphoria in the basement of a Mosque, where it was languishing, unloved, unread, and water-damaged to boot, with a lot of other historical, religious and religio-tainment materials to do with Islam and Muslims, all of highly varying quality. One of the best purchases I have ever made.

Anyways, the eternal arbiter of Internet Truth (wikipedia) has a decent article on him.

For anyone who wants to understand and learn from the history of the dissolution of Yugoslavia and the genocidal war in Bosnia, this book is a must-read. For anyone who wants to see a way forward in relations between Muslims and non-Muslim societies, this book is essential.

This man forged a democratic, multi-religious society in the midst of a genocide, against almost all odds, using sheer persistence to facilitate the Muslim world's outpouring of aid, and to cajole and embarrass the West to do something about the rise of fascism in its midst.

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Wednesday, July 11, 2007

A portrait of the human soul.

Anyone who has ever wondered at the stream of slurs that often appear in the comments sections of online newspapers, blogs, and politically-charged YouTube videos will find this article to be a thought-provoking read.

The power of the internet to rapidly disseminate ideas is what inspired thousands of people to set up blogs and fora and post their thoughts. Quicker and more satisfying than a letter-to-the-editor, this allows us to not only get our thoughts published, but to get a reaction. All human beings crave that - even the quietest of souls.

I have, it seems, joined this teeming mass of human intellect and idiocy.

We now have a record of all this - the good, bad, and ugly, and not just from devoted crackpots or influential editors, but from every Jane and Joe who checks the headlines during a coffee break.

It is, as the author says, a remarkable portrait of the human soul.

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Tuesday, July 10, 2007

The Law is the Law

Lethal force should always be a last resort.

While the operation around the Lal Masjid is now winding down the authorities in Pakistan and in Islamabad cannot be accused of having jumped to a violent conclusion. Indeed, they did try just about everything they could have in order to get Ghazi to come out peacefully. I would argue that they should have mounted a police action against the Jamia Hafsa and Lal Masjid three months ago, when the cane-wielding female fanatics occupied a children's library. Had Musharraf come down hard when they first stepped outside the bounds of the law, and ran roughshod over any concept of civilized conduct, we would not have been where we are today.

Now Ghazi, along with dozens of his supporters are dead. They had a chance to surrender, and instead they insisted on holding the city hostage and brandishing automatic weapons.

To quote the late Joe Strummer, they "fought the law, and won." (sing it with me).

I won't speak about what Ghazi and his brother believed - it is to hard to say what degree of charlatanism characterized their outfit without observing it first hand. Their supporters, on the other hand, unfortunately failed to understand a core component of Islamic governance that enabled the Arabs and the later Muslim peoples to escape their backwards and illiteracy - the monopoly on force.

Before the arrival of Islam, the Arabs were separated into warring tribes, with the strength of a tribe's vendetta being the guarantor of the safety of its members and friends. The first Muslims were forced from Mecca because the Prophet's (peace be upon him) uncle, Abu Talib, died, and therefore was unable to protect them. This changed with the advent of Islam, with the Khalifas who followed Muhammad insisting on the disarming of all tribes and the consolidation of all forces into a unified command structure.

This is why the American-Ethiopian aggression against Somalia was such a setback for that country. For the first time in over a decade, Somalia had a chance to escape the domination of clans and armed gangs. With the defeat of the Islamic Courts Union, Uncle Sam got his way, and chaos once again triumphed in the Muslim world.

Back to the Lal Masjid. Without anyone's approval or consent, and without anything that can legitimately be considered provocation, Ghazi's followers attempted to create a parastate apparatus in Islamabad itself, arming themselves to the teeth and inspiring their female students to use their sympathetic position as women to blackmail the government - daring it to stand up to them. For far too long, it looked like their calculation of the government's cowardice was correct. Sometimes military dictatorships aren't ruthless enough.

The law is the law. These people broke it. If they couldn't be put safely in jail, then there was, in the end, only one option.

Now that Musharraf has put down this idiotic little rebellion, the country must now confront the next greatest threat to the rule of law:

Musharraf himself.

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Monday, July 9, 2007

What is The Proud Islamist?

In the name of God, the most Gracious, most Merciful.

What is The Proud Islamist?

I don't know.

I would, however, like to first explain what it is not:

Is this a blog devoted to gruesome videos and threatening rants against the West?

No. That is my day job.

Seriously, you will not find any of that sort of nonsense here. I believe that whatever I write should be the sort of thing you wouldn't mind reading with your mother in the room. Additionally, while rants against "the West" (whatever that is) may be reproduced here, and while I might even pen one or two of my own, I don't believe that any particular society or ideology is to blame for all the evils of the world. Generally, people are to blame for what is immoral. Everything else is just an accident.

Is this a blog devoted to dietary restrictions, women's clothes, and men's facial hair?

No. Fashion advice, religiously motivated or not, will most likely not appear here. While I am aware of the religious significance of these things, and appreciate that they have different meanings to different people, here I am only interested in these insofar as they can tell us something about the people and groups that are concerned with them.

Are you a "moderate Muslim?"

Do I try to pray 2.5 times a day?
Do I drink, but just red wine, for my health?
Do I pick-up, but only to hold hands?
Do I vote Liberal in every election?
Do I support Fatah in everything, Hamas in nothing, and Israel's Right To Exist?
Am I in favour of American wars, but only with Minimum Collateral Damage?
Do I want to Reform Islam to Comply with Modernity?

That's an absolute no on all counts. That's because such a person does not exist. He would be a walking self-contradiction.

Are you an Islamist?

Read the title.

What does that mean?

Not much. It is an exceptionally poorly defined term, largely disseminated by the English news media to describe a poorly understood and extremely diverse set of political movements in the Muslim world.

Just as "Terrorism" is a propagandist's shorthand for "Political violence we don't like," "Islamist" is the propagandist's term for "Muslim I don't like."

Since it's out there, I thought I might as well claim it for myself. It is difficult to nail down, but for now I will say that to me, "Islamism" means "The belief that Islam should influence the political action of Muslim groups and individuals."

Ok, so what are you?

I am, first and foremost, a human being aspiring to be a Muslim.

Even I am not yet sure of the implications of that.

So why did you make this blog?

It was largely inspired by the rise of an abject stupidity that has arisen in Canadian political discourse, primarily surrounding the Muslim world and extending to the way in which Canadians relate to the interplay of faith and politics where Muslims are concerned. I should say here that I am a proud Canadian - I believe that this society has achieved things that are unparalleled throughout the world. From a functioning constitutional method of resolving internal disputes, to a working single-payer universal health system, an unchallenged rule of law and a strong sense of patriotism that shies away from vulgar jingoism, I see unique virtues in Canada's political life, virtues that I feel go to the core of what it means to be an Islamic society.

Recently, however, this has been changing. Media conglomerates owned by forked-tongued, fascist-minded ideologues are changing the political discourse in Canada. Their message:

1) Fear the Muslims.
2) Abandon your concern for social justice.
3) Canada is a bad country to live in.
4) The West is morally superior in all matters.

In this climate, it is increasingly conceivable that a dissenting voice on political and cultural issues, writing on a blog called "The Proud Islamist" might just be tracked down and locked up. We shall see.

At the same time, I am confronted daily with the stupidity of the Muslims. From their embarrassingly low literacy in the developing world to their unthinking, uncritical, often un-Islamic approach to life and religion in the developed world. They find themselves trapped between the Irshad Manji's and the Mullah Omar Wanna-be's, and seem often incapable of realizing the absurdity of the dichotomy.

So I wanted a place to muse in public about these problems, and this is as good as any.

And as we always say, if anything I say is good then the credit is to God, and if it is bad, it is due to me.

That's all for now.


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