My @Quora comment on an answer to As alleged by atheists that everyone is born atheist, why hasn’t the world produced more atheists than …

My @Quora comment on an answer to As alleged by atheists that everyone is born atheist, why hasn't the world produce…

My @Quora comment on an answer to As alleged by atheists that everyone is born atheist, why hasn't the world produced more atheists than theists? :

My @Quora comment on an answer to As alleged by atheists that everyone is born atheist, why hasn’t the world produced more atheists than …

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Why can’t Muslims take criticism of Islam?

My @Quora answer to Why can't Muslims take criticism of Islam?

Answer by Jim Ashby:

Because Islam is based on the clear, perfect, immutable, inerrant, word of Allah: The Quran. As the foundation of Islam, the Quran is inviolable . . . not just by Muslims but, rather, by non-Muslims too: by everybody.

Unlike the Bible, with its stories and parables and symbolism, the Quran was not authored by men: it was authored by Allah himself. It's straight-up preaching from beginning to end. As such, not a single word of it may be challenged. Mortal men are simply insignificant in comparison to Allah.

Additionally, the Quran is unrelentingly, self-reinforcingly, fundamentalist. It repeatedly exhorts believers to keep believing and condemns non-believers, unbelievers, disbelievers, misbelievers and ex-believers for not believing. It repeatedly cautions believers to be wary of non-believers and not trust them. It repeatedly tells believers they will not be believed and that Allah knows best.

Try to imagine religious indoctrination to such totalitarian and supremacist teachings. Now toss in a healthy dose of xenophobia and militarism: the evil of infidels and the glory of holy war (jihad). Islam is not merely a 'religious sphere of influence': it encompasses all of life. There is no secular realm or component: not even in politics or law. So when you disrespect Allah, Islam, the Quran or Muhammad, you disrespect the entire ummah of Islam. It's no different, to Muslims, than a personal attack that warrants self-defense. Such disrespect is all the warrant needed for violent retaliation. Cartoon of Muhammad, anyone?

That's how totalitarianism and supremacism turn tolerance on its head. Non-Muslims must respect Islam. It's not negotiable. And therein lies fertile grounds to license violence. As of 2011, worldwide statistics reveal that 70% of terrorist killings were perpetrated by Sunni Muslims — who comprise about 85% of all Muslims. If you take an average estimate of 1.6 billion Muslims in the world, then 85% of that equals 1.36 billion Sunnis. This represents 19.43% of the world's 7 billion people. So terrorists among that 19.43% of the world's population commits 70% of the world's terrorist killings, year after year. All else being equal, that's 3.6 times higher than what should be expected . . . yet apologists would have us believe it has nothing to do with Islam.

“I am treated as evil by people who claim that they are being oppressed because they are not allowed to force me to practice what they do.” ~D. Dale Gulledge

Why can't Muslims take criticism of Islam?

When atheists argue against God why do they so often have some fairy tale being in mind, like the celestial teapot or the spaghetti monst…

My @Quora answer to When atheists argue against God why do they so often have some fairy tale being in mind, like th…

Answer by Jim Ashby:

Where do you get the notion that atheists 'always' have some fairy tale in mind?

I don't really argue against God so much as I argue that there's no objective basis for belief in God. I mean, there's no information about God to argue from or about, pro or con. There's scripture and theology but, no matter how well you know them, you still don't know anything whatsoever about God. Arguing about God is more rightly termed, 'conjecture'.

I've been taking every opportunity, here on Quora, to explain exactly why there's no objective basis for belief in God. It applies to ALL gods.

Look around, 'out there', in the world and universe around you. There's nothing 'out there' you can point to that confirms the existence of God. Everybody knows that's true because, if there were something 'out there' that confirms God's existence, everybody would know what it is.

And, if there's nothing 'out there' that confirms God's existence, where do you suppose that confirmation comes from? Where else? Your mind. God is all in your head. He's imaginary: a mental concept in which belief is 100% subjective and 0% objective.

I don't need to conjecture about God when I can incontrovertibly prove that there's no objective reason to suppose he exists in the first place.

This doesn't mean God does not exist. It just means there's zero objective reason to believe he does.

When atheists argue against God why do they so often have some fairy tale being in mind, like the celestial teapot or the spaghetti monst…

Where in the Quran does it say that non-believers must be killed?

My @Quora answer to Where in the Quran does it say that non-believers must be killed?

Answer by Jim Ashby:

Much of the Quran needs to be cross-referenced with ahadith in order to understand its context and make sense of what you’re reading.  I'll be dealing, mostly, with contradictions of two often-cited admonitions repeated frequently in the Quran:

  1. There should be no compulsion in religion.
  2. You should only fight in self-defense.

These admonitions are invoked by apologists to support the claim that, despite abundant evidence to the contrary, Islam is a religion of peace and tolerance.
 

Quran (9:5) – "So when the sacred months have passed away, then slay the idolaters wherever you find them, and take them captive and besiege them and lie in wait for them in every ambush, then if they repent and keep up prayer and pay the poor-rate, leave their way free to them."

This ayah is from the next-to-last sura (Al-Taubah) in the Quran. It takes place in Mecca after Muhammad and his men conquered it (with only a small number of deaths involved) . . . Muhammad was in complete control of the city. In this ayah, a revelation from Allah is clearly planning future attacks to take place after the end of pilgrimage season ('the sacred months'). This is not counseling self-defense in any way, shape, or form. Period. It's giving specific orders to kill pagans or imprison People of the Book who will not recognize the authority of Muhammad and Islam. It commands the Muslims to kill recalcitrant pagans ('idolaters') wherever they are found AND to ambush, assault and imprison People of the Book who are not honoring Mecca's dhimma contract. In other words, make sure to convert or kill any recalcitrant pagans and force all recalcitrant Jews and Christians into dhimmitude. But, if they're cooperating (‘keep up prayer and pay the poor-rate [zakat]’), then leave them alone.

This murderous ayah is PROOF of Allah commanding conversion of pagans by the sword and forced dhimmitude for all other non-Muslims. It should be noted here that Meccans weren't fighting Muhammad: they were merely resisting his authority: they weren't 'getting with the program', so to speak. Attacking and killing them directly violates the Quranic injunction against fighting except in self defense. And since the goal is to convert or kill pagans and force the rest into dhimmitude, it also violates the Quranic injunction against compulsion in religion. This is an example of abrogation: a later revelation contradicting earlier ones. In essence, the clear, perfect, immutable, inerrant Quran contradicts itself: Allah changed his omniscient mind.

Now, I ask you, which is more likely:

  • Allah, the perfect embodiment of truth, abrogated his own clear, perfect,  immutable, inerrant Quran?
  • Muhammad, a mere mortal man, needed the doctrine of abrogation to excuse the contradictions that accompanied his transformation from the tolerant but powerless prophet of Mecca to the intolerant and powerful warlord of Medina?

Common sense tells us that Muhammad conjured 'revelations' as suited his needs and ascribed them to Allah. Even Aisha teased Muhammad about the the convenient timing and content of his 'revelations'.

This first ayah was the one I wanted to flesh out in detail. The remaining ones are added for good measure. Check them out if you like.


Quran (8:67) – "It is not for a Prophet that he should have prisoners of war until he had made a great slaughter in the land."

What can be said about that?!? It’s just plain barbaric.
 

Quran (8:12) – "I will cast terror into the hearts of those who disbelieve. Therefore strike off their heads and strike off every fingertip of them."

This revelation comes after Muhammad moved to Medina and was gaining power. Is this a man of peace and tolerance or is this a man bent on forced conversions – despite previous revelations (in Mecca) that claim there should be no coercion in religion?
 

Quran (8:39) – "And fight with them until there is no more fitna and religion should be only for Allah"

‘Fitna’ is disbelief. This is yet another ayah in which power has gone to Muhammad’s head and prior injunctions for self-defense and no coercion in religion go out the window.
 

Quran (5:33) – "The punishment of those who wage war against Allah and His messenger and strive to make mischief in the land is only this, that they should be murdered or crucified or their hands and their feet should be cut off on opposite sides or they should be imprisoned; this shall be as a disgrace for them in this world, and in the hereafter they shall have a grievous chastisement"

This comes from one of the last sura in the Quran. Does this sound like a representative of God to you? Waging war against Allah and His messenger is NOT actual violence and attacks (as in a real war), it’s 'making mischief in the land': disrespecting Allah, Islam, the Quran and/or Muhammad. To this day, such disrespect is all the warrant needed for violent retaliation. Charlie Hebdo, anybody?
 

Quran (2:216) – "Fighting is prescribed for you, and ye dislike it. But it is possible that ye dislike a thing which is good for you, and that ye love a thing which is bad for you. But Allah knoweth, and ye know not."

Muhammad is trying to get his followers on board with his plan to raid caravans for camels and booty. The ‘back story’ here is that Muhammad and his followers are impoverished because the possessions they left behind, in Mecca, when they moved to Medina, were confiscated by the Meccans. You can see that the men are, at least initially, reticent to risk their lives (caravans were accompanied by armed fighters, for protection from robbers). Indeed, their first few attempts to raid caravans failed, probably because of their reticence.
 
Also note that raiding caravans is an offensive, not defensive, operation . . . contrary to what the Quran preaches.
 

Quran (9:29) – "Fight those who believe not in Allah nor the Last Day, nor hold that forbidden which hath been forbidden by Allah and His Messenger, nor acknowledge the religion of Truth, (even if they are) of the People of the Book, until they pay the Jizya with willing submission, and feel themselves subdued."

This is one of the last revelations from Muhammad. Note that believers aren’t being told to fight in self defense. They’re being told to fight unbelievers because they don’t believe (are resisting Islam). Also notice that dhimma (which demands jizya tribute tax) had already been instituted by Muhammad.

Where in the Quran does it say that non-believers must be killed?

What do atheists have against Islam?

My @Quora answer to What do atheists have against Islam?

Answer by Jim Ashby:

The first thing I had against Islam was the Quran. Upon reading it, I could only shake my head in wonder at the mindset it must inculcate among adherents. It's unrelentingly xenophobic, militaristic, totalitarian and supermacist. As I cross-referenced it with ahadith, I saw that they were even worse than the Quran. This led me to look at the history of Islam, which had its strengths and weaknesses. Islam's 1000-year history in India was particularly appalling. Sickening, actually. Then I saw how Islamic tradition proved to be very misogynistic — going well beyond what was warranted by the Quran or even by ahadith. The subjugation of women in Islam is a fait accompli without rival in all of history.

As if all these things weren't bad enough, what really bothers me most is how Islam is binding on non-Muslims. No other religion holds non-adherents accountable to its beliefs like Islam does. You must acknowledge and respect Allah, the Quran and Muhammad: disrespecting them is disrespecting the entire ummah of Islam. It's considered to be (literally) making war on Allah and is all the warrant necessary for violent retaliation. We're all aware of how true this is. Cartoon of Muhammad, anybody?

There is precious little in Islam for freedom-loving Westerners to like. Our liberty and rights are anathema to Islam. Our respective values are simply not compatible, at all. As with any other religion, Islam's adherents are like anybody else. They just want to get through life with as little unnecessary drama as possible. Having lived in Kuwait for 6 months, I find no fault with Muslims. They're actually very nice people. My problem with Islam is not its adherents, it's the ideology as informed by the Quran, sunna (ahadith and Muhammad's example), jihad, sharia, Islamic tradition and history. It is my belief that the ideology flowing from the Quran and ahadith is poison to peace and tolerance (despite the opposite claim of Muslim apologists). For instance, antisemitism is institutionalized by sharia law in the form of dhimma. Jews (and other 'People of the Book') are subjugated and deemed inferior to Muslims. Robert Bernstein, founder of Human Rights Watch, says that antisemitism is "deeply ingrained and institutionalized" in "Arab nations in modern times." That's an understatement.

It's not as if I want to dislike Islam. It's just that the more I learn about it, the less there is to like. I hope everybody reads the Quran and cross-references it with ahadith when questions arise. It will give you a glimpse into the mindset Islam instills.

What do atheists have against Islam?

Where in the Quran does it say that non-believers must be killed?

My @Quora answer to Where in the Quran does it say that non-believers must be killed?

Answer by Jim Ashby:

Much of the Quran needs to be cross-referenced with ahadith in order to understand its context and make sense of what you’re reading.
 

Quran (9:5) – "So when the sacred months have passed away, then slay the idolaters wherever you find them, and take them captive and besiege them and lie in wait for them in every ambush, then if they repent and keep up prayer and pay the poor-rate, leave their way free to them."

This is the next-to-last sura (Al-Taubah) in the Quran. It takes place in Mecca after Muhammad and his men conquered it . . . so, it’s clearly not counseling violence in self-defense. What it’s counseling is attacks on Meccans who have still refused to convert to Islam (i.e., are still idolaters). If they convert (‘keep up prayer and pay the poor-rate [zakat]’), then leave them alone.
 

Quran (8:67) – "It is not for a Prophet that he should have prisoners of war until he had made a great slaughter in the land…"

What can be said about that?!? It’s just plain barbaric.
 

Quran (8:12) – "I will cast terror into the hearts of those who disbelieve. Therefore strike off their heads and strike off every fingertip of them."

This revelation comes after Muhammad moved to Medina and was gaining power. Is this a man of peace and tolerance or is this a man bent on forced conversions – despite previous revelations (in Mecca) that claim there should be no coercion in religion?
 

Quran (8:39) – "And fight with them until there is no more fitna and religion should be only for Allah"

‘Fitna’ is disbelief. This is yet another ayat in which power has gone to Muhammad’s head and prior injunctions for self-defense and no coercion in religion go out the window.
 

Quran (5:33) – "The punishment of those who wage war against Allah and His messenger and strive to make mischief in the land is only this, that they should be murdered or crucified or their hands and their feet should be cut off on opposite sides or they should be imprisoned; this shall be as a disgrace for them in this world, and in the hereafter they shall have a grievous chastisement"

This comes from one of the last sura in the Quran. Does this sound like a representative of God to you? Waging war against Allah and His messenger is NOT actual violence and attacks (as in a real war), it’s 'making mischief in the land': disrespecting Allah, Islam, the Quran and/or Muhammad. To this day, such disrespect is all the warrant needed for violent retaliation. Charlie Hebdo, anybody?
 

Quran (2:216) – "Fighting is prescribed for you, and ye dislike it. But it is possible that ye dislike a thing which is good for you, and that ye love a thing which is bad for you. But Allah knoweth, and ye know not."

Muhammad is trying to get his followers on board with his plan to raid caravans for camels and booty. The ‘back story’ here is that Muhammad and his followers are impoverished because the possessions they left behind, in Mecca, when they moved to Medina, were confiscated by the Meccans. You can see that the men are, at least initially, reticent to risk their lives (caravans were accompanied by armed fighters, for protection from robbers). Indeed, their first few attempts to raid caravans failed, probably because of their reticence.
 
Also note that raiding caravans is an offensive, not defensive, operation . . . contrary to what the Quran preaches.
 

Quran (9:29) – "Fight those who believe not in Allah nor the Last Day, nor hold that forbidden which hath been forbidden by Allah and His Messenger, nor acknowledge the religion of Truth, (even if they are) of the People of the Book, until they pay the Jizya with willing submission, and feel themselves subdued."

This is one of the last revelations from Muhammad. Note that believers aren’t being told to fight in self defense. They’re being told to fight unbelievers because they don’t believe (are resisting Islam). Also notice that dhimma (which demands jizya tribute tax) had already been instituted by Muhammad.

Where in the Quran does it say that non-believers must be killed?