The “concept” of a “religion”

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Over at Randy’s place a heated discussion about Islam & homosexuality has broken out (via Abiola). One of the issues that (as always) crops up is the “true” Islam vs. Islamism dispute. To which I ask, what is the more birdy bird, a robin or an ostrich? Both are birds by a checklist definition, or a phylogenetic definition, but when posed this question by cognitive scientists, most people assert that the robin is the more exemplar or prototypical “bird.” Concepts derive from a host of inputs (induction via examples), a few axioms, a general theory of the concept (ie; often a level of telos, which shouldn’t surprise those familiar with evolutionary biology) and the context that the concept is framed within. In other words, most concepts are not derived from a few axioms like the mathematical definition of a triangle. Attempting to use logical methods to falsify someone as a “Muslim” or infer the “natural” implications of being a Muslim are fraught with difficulty because the assumption is that there is a prototypical or ideal Islam that naturally follows from agreed upon axioms. Unfortunately many concepts (most) don’t work this way, they are characterized by a continuous distribution about central tendency (or central tendencies if there are multiple exemplars) with variation and outliers. Additionally, context matters, grey hair is generally clustered with white hair, with black hair being the outgroup, but grey clouds and black clouds are clustered together with white clouds being the outgroup.


Of course, aside from ornithologists and hard-core cladists (yes, you GFA) the question of what is a bird is not ontologically significant. But as I noted yesterday, arcane circumlocutions around the unknowable in the garb of logic is a common tendency when you are talking about heartfelt beliefs that are difficult to approach using rationality or empiricism (politics?), but from the attempt at such a feat comes the impression that there is a truist Islam, closer to the ideal as inferred from the axioms of the faith (by learned scholars in the faith). The problem is that language is not expressed through formal logical notation, and squishiness is a feature not a bug. Consider the idea that “there is no compulsion in religion” in Islam. Sayyid Qutb, the evil genius who was the Marx to bin Laden’s Lenin agreed with this, for you see, his idea was simply that under and Islamic government everyone could choose to be a Muslim or a dhimmi,1 there was no compulsion, and everyone then had the “freedom” to choose Islam as they should. As Bill O’Reilly would say, “Show me where I’m wrong?”

Recommended: A far more adroit explication of concepts can be found at Chris’ blog (I left a lot of stuff implicit obviously, in part because I’m not familiar with this area, it just “makes sense” to me in terms of the religion debates that go on on weblogs), Concepts I: The Classical View, ConceptsII: The Prototypes, Concepts III: The Exemplars, Concepts IV: A Second Revolution and The Importance of Names. If paper is your thang, check out Mind Readings: Introductory Selections on Cognitive Science or Mind: Introduction to Cognitive Science, both have chapters on concepts.

Addendum: Obviously some of the ideas that I hint at about concepts (and categories) have relevance to many socially constructed demarcations with fuzzy boundaries. Longtime readers of this blog might find this from page 102 of Mind Readings amusing: “…sensitivity to correlations of properties with a category enables finger predictions….” Yes Virginia, there is one true reality, and intellectual disciplines are its many faces.

1 – Apostasy is of course not permissible, but one Muslim apologist (see Leaving Islam: Apostates Speak Out) for this position simply said this did not contradict the “no compulsion in religon” edict because apostasy (from Islam) was an act against nature itself, so it really didn’t fit the bill. Of course, it all makes rational sense.

45 Comments

  1. being gay is a problem but sodomizing/raping young males or low SEC males in arab afgan socities is of course not gay but a sign of supe-maleness – the macho occasional forcible sodomist is a badge of virility. 
     
    or am i mixing uo myth w fact??

  2. go ikram go! go ikram go! 
     
    the more explicit they are, the better. i do so prefer a robust, fullthroated defense of sharia and the stoning of homosexuals to casuistry. 
     
    Ahh, 100% pure medievalism has a bracing effect, does it not? no liberal ever wakes up till he’s mugged by reality. somehow i think that after this that is one more gay male who will be less likely to expend barrels of ink on minimizing the problem of islam in europe.  
     
    A culture need not be a majority to change the culture for the worse.

  3. I’ve asked Randy to correct his characterization of my views. As you can imagine, it’s way way off. Now I se what its like for Razib to constantly be called a racist. Quite irritating.

  4. “When respected and supposedly respectable Muslim clerics like Dr. Yusuf al-Qaradawi feel free to publically advocate the murder of homosexuals in order to restore an antique purity to society, along with the limited domestic abuse of women, female genital mutilation, committing genocide against Israelis, and murdering apostates, it seems safe to conclude that a disturbingly large chunk of the world’s Muslim population have very serious issues with pluralism.” 
     
    Well, duh.

  5. yukyukyuk: 
     
    somehow i think that after this that is one more gay male who will be less likely to expend barrels of ink on minimizing the problem of islam in europe. 
     
    Please. I’ve not been doing that. I’ve not been doing anything of the sort. I simply think we should go to first principles. 
     
    Ikram: 
     
    I’ve asked Randy to correct his characterization of my views. As you can imagine, it’s way way off. 
     
    I used your words, Ikram, not mine. Look, there’s the links to your comments!

  6. Here is what Ikram said 
     
    “From ikram 
     
    Choudhry was ambushed. He was asked if the Koran was wrong. He’s not going to answer ‘yes, the Koran is wrong’. No beleiver can do that. 
     
    what they is is wiggle around the edges and explain why the words on the page don’t mean what you think they mean. That’s how Jews and Christians avoid some unpleasant passages in teh Bible. Choudhry’s crime is that he is unskilled in religious sophistry. And for that, he will be, rhetorically, torn to pieces. 
     
    If the test of a good Muslim is one who agree the Koran is wrong, there are no good Muslims in the world. There’s your LGF conclusion”.

  7. I am not sure whats wrong with the above comment.

  8. I used your words, Ikram 
     
    Actualy, no. I never used the word ‘racism’ (nor would I). Nor did I argue that it is wrong to criticize homophobes and gay bashers, on any grounds. 
     
    I’d prefer if you actually quoted my comments — I think I can stand by everything I said. Alternatively, I can draft a paragaph describing what I said (which was mostly an analysis of your thinking, and a description of the logical endpoint of your views), and you can put in into the post. 
     
    Given the importance of the issues, it would be a shame to be sidetracked with a ‘who said what’ discussion.

  9. ik & rand, you guys should meet a cup of coffee. 
     
    That’s how Jews and Christians avoid some unpleasant passages in teh Bible. 
     
    this is an interesting point. at least for christians, the analogy doesn’t work, they don’t view the bible in the same way muslims view the koran, and until ~1900ish they never really have. and of course, some of the mu’tazilites had some “weird” views of the koran….

  10. Razib — Yep. the Koran is to Muslims what Jesus would be to Christians. I’m not sure you can be a Christian if you deny the resurrection. In the same way, you can’t be a Muslim and deny the accuracy of the Koran. There isn’t anyhthing to the religion beyond the koran.  
     
    (Is there anything to Christianity beyond the resurrection? I know Deists and Unitarians may say yes. But I can’t see what.)

  11. Is there anything to Christianity beyond the resurrection? 
     
    if you consider evangelical protestantism, this might be a viable assertion (obviously it elides details). obviously it doesn’t work as well for roman catholicism and other more communal faiths, sacraments and the church matter quite a bit.  
     
    btw, it seems that 4% of american christians do not believe in the resurrection as of 2 years ago.

  12. re: the koran. the problem i have is that you are holding to an axiomatic definition of what is normative in sunni islam (among the shia there are diverse traditions, and i believe some are equivocal about an uncreated koran). obviously most muslims have this problem, that’s why it is so easy to ambush them about questions regarding homosexuality, apostasy and secular government, they simply heard a verse from the koran (usually in translation!), they connect koran, infer “i must believe it 100%,” and so like an automaton they must assent to the truthity of the statement presented. 
     
    this to me suggests at least two things: 
     
    1) the critical scriptural tradition within islam is so weak that elite muslims simply can not conceive of historicizing their text. it has been done, from the 8th century to the modern. but anyone who keeps up on the topic knows that there is a lot of marginalization of this group through legal and not-so-legal means in the non-western world, and in the western world they are more likely to be writing for the nation (see reza aslan) than a muslim magazine. 
     
    2) the tradition of verbal gymnastics doesn’t exist within islam. fundamentalist christians have all sorts of interpretations to maintain the literality of the bible. ie; when jesus says he will return before the “passing of the generation,” fundamentalist christians know that generation really means the jewish people (otherwise, the verse would be wrong, and jesus and the bible can’t be wrong, ergo, our solution must be right)> 
     
    3) there is a tradition within islam, call it “moderate,” that says that what is not impermissible is acceptable. the problem is that there is a lot that is impermissible, and aspects of the impermissible make one skeptical, if you take an axiomatic view, that islam and a plural society are miscible. 
     
    4) the hadiths are a big problem, we can’t forget that. they are easier to dispense with though, just pretend like the chain is muddy. 
     
    5) muslims need to find wedges if they want to maintain their faith and live in the west to rework it. for example, note the hadith: “My Ummah will not unite upon error.” well, just convince the ummah of a particular to agree on something that is contradicts islamic tradition or stricture. since the community will never unite upon error, and muslism aren’t going to allow themselves to consider that they are apostate…. 
     
    6) several fold points 
     
    * religious people believe they are right 
    * so you can’t convince them they are wrong, you simply have to show them how this is more right 
    * this means engagement. christianity has engaged in an often hostile anti-christian verbally adroit minority in its midst since the mid 18th century. islam hasn’t.  
    * to some extent the modern multicultural paradigm which posits ontological emergent rights to cultures blocks the emergence of a similar parasitic entity within islam to bore it out from the inside.

  13. p.s. ik, i note that in randy’s comments you said some of the things is suggest above (or implied them). but again, i think that islam could survive a revision of the inerrancy tenet. god has always survived the impending triumpth of falsification.

  14. one last thought, my impression is that western muslims regularly explain the “jew hating” passages conextually. i can not but wonder if the lack of contextualization of homosexuality is simply due to the fact that sensitivity to this group has not become normative so muslims do not need to rethink their axioms….

  15. “i can not but wonder if the lack of contextualization of homosexuality is simply due to the fact that sensitivity to this group has not become normative so muslims do not need to rethink their axioms….” 
     
    Not all verses in the Quran are amenable to similar ‘straight face’ contextualization. It would be extremely difficult to reinterpret monotheism as the verses explaining/commanding monotheism are way more explicit, unambiguous and spread all over the Quran when compared to the verses putting the Jews in a negative light.  
    Theres a nascent movement of ‘progressive’ muslims in North America (www.muslimwakeup.com) which had attempted to reinterpret (not contextualize though) the conventional interpretations of the verses against homosexuality.  
    I am not a scholar on Islam, but it seems to me that the verses condemning homosexuality are more explicit and unambiguous which makes it difficult to contextualize and hence the need for reinterpretation.

  16. Firstpartial retraction
     
    The statement said that he ?personally abhors the practice of stoning? but stood by the teachings of the Koran. “I have been a devout Muslim all my life and stand by the teachings of the Koran – to me it is like the Bible is to a Christian. But as a matter of personal belief, I abhor stoning and am strongly opposed to violence,? he said, concluding the statement by saying no further comment would be made on the issue. 
     
    So. Choudhary is as much of a homophobe as turn-of-the-century Vienna mayor Karl Lüger was an anti-Semite, willing to collaborate with members of the group he despises, perhaps distinguishing between “good” and “bad” members. The critical difference, of course, is that Lüger didn’t favour the extermination of Jews. 
     
    What Zain Ali wrote in the New Zealand Herald is wise. 
     
    How about the stoning to death of adulterers and homosexuals, I hear you ask? The Koran in no way specifies a punishment for homosexuality. But Islamic law does endorse the death penalty for adultery and homosexuality.  
     
    The issue here is with Islamic law, or Shariah, and as the Muslim gay activist, Irshad Menj notes: in the 11th century there were 135 schools of Islamic legal thought. These were deliberately reduced to four, conservative, schools of thought.  
     
    This led to a rigid reading of the Koran as well as to a series of legal opinions – fatwas – that scholars could no longer overturn or even question, but could now only imitate.  
     
    In other words, Islamic law is caught up in the imitation of medieval norms, which have trumped legal and social innovation.  
     
    Given these considerations, I do feel totally let down by the double-dutch of Ashraf Choudhary, but then again I have heard him proclaim several times that he does not represent Muslims. Rather, he claims to represent New Zealand’s ethnic communities. Point taken, although in the court of public opinion he is still regarded as the “Muslim MP”.
     
     
    Choudhary’s homophobia should be condemned on its own terms. Nothing in this homophobia is intrinsic to Islam; the particular style of his homophobia, however, does come from Islam.

  17. Sorry. The first sentence above should read “Choudhary made a partial retraction.”

  18.  
    Not all verses in the Quran are amenable to similar ‘straight face’ contextualization. It would be extremely difficult to reinterpret monotheism as the verses explaining/commanding monotheism are way more explicit, unambiguous and spread all over the Quran when compared to the verses putting the Jews in a negative light.
     
     
    of course. there are different grades of slipperiness though. consider monotheism, tawhid, the oneness of god. 
     
    there is variance among muslims on this point, with salafis at one end and various shia groups at the other (the druze cross the consensus opinion as being engaged in shirk). even if the homosexual passages are explicit, i think you underestimate the ingenuity of the human mind, where there’s a will, there’s a way.  
     
    consider the passage in genesis where the sodomites want to “know” the angels who come to visit lot. the straight-faced interpretation of this is that they want to sodomize the angels, and clearly this is cast in a bad light. but another interpretation i heard from a rabbi is that it is not the homosexuality, but the implicit rape and lack of hospitality that is being frowned upon (then he had to a do dance around the fact that lot offers his virgin daughters up to the sodomites as a lesser sin, though they demur). 
     
    all religions have had to dance around their sacred texts. islam has too! christianity has had to dance quite a bit in the past few centuries as the free thinkers have refused to take heed of her rejection. islam must be made to dance, the fact is that it’s danced in the past, and the claim to virtue is an ahistorical projection by modern muslims, in particular relatively deracinated western muslims who have internalized some of the protestant conception of texts and properly placed their own tradition as congruent with the anti-modernist literalist camp of christians.

  19. Al Mujahid: 
     
    Choudhry was ambushed. He was asked if the Koran was wrong. He’s not going to answer ‘yes, the Koran is wrong’. No beleiver can do that. 
     
    what they is is wiggle around the edges and explain why the words on the page don’t mean what you think they mean. That’s how Jews and Christians avoid some unpleasant passages in teh Bible. Choudhry’s crime is that he is unskilled in religious sophistry. And for that, he will be, rhetorically, torn to pieces. 
     
    If the test of a good Muslim is one who agree the Koran is wrong, there are no good Muslims in the world. There’s your LGF conclusion”
     
     
    Judging by his latest comments on my blog, Ikram appears to be arguing that one shouldn’t condemn people as bigots just because they practice and believe in a religion that believes bigoted things, like (say) the urgent need to stone homosexuals to death. I’ll quote him. 
     
    If you, Randy, think that a good Muslim is one who thinks the Koran has mistakes, then you will find no good Muslims in the world. 
     
    “God says that the Jews of Strasbourg must be burned,” alas, is no better an argument for genocide than “The Führer commands that the Jews of Strasbourg be taken and shot.” A prejudice’s origin in a specific religious tradition doesn’t legitimate the prejudice; rather, it should delegitimate the specific tradition. Assuming, of course, that one’s not trying to find justification for one’s particular prejudice. 
     
    If certain Muslims want to believe that homosexuals like myself should be stoned to death, fine. These specific people just shouldn’t complain when people rightly identify them as violent bigots, especially not when these prejudices are, in fact, used to justify the judicial murder of homosexuals.

  20. Nothing in this homophobia is intrinsic to Islam; the particular style of his homophobia, however, does come from Islam. 
     
    i think there is very little that instrinsic to any religion. the problem is that religion is not politics, people do not ever take great pride in compromise and it is not viewed as a means to an ends, it is an ends. the key to turn is convince people that proposition X fulfils their religious duties more than !X.

  21. In conclusion, if it had been a Christian MP with a legacy of cooperating with Muslim community groups in New Zealand who said that, in his ideal world, all Muslims would be buried alive, would we even be debating the question of whether or not this was bigoted?

  22.  
    If certain Muslims want to believe that homosexuals like myself should be stoned to death, fine. These specific people just shouldn’t complain when people rightly identify them as violent bigots, especially not when these prejudices are, in fact, used to justify the judicial murder of homosexuals.
     
     
    two points 
     
    1) as an apostate i sympathize with you randy, and the two situations are not analogous because apostasy is in some ways more socially tolerated than homosexuality. but, i ask that you tone down your language a bit in the interests of maintaining the dialogue, if not with ikram, at least so that others don’t get swamped by the cross-talk. 
     
    2) as re: homosexuality, i think one thing to consider when wondering about this is: replace homosexuality with black. would people be defending this statement as understandable in light of the religion (one which is attempting to be accepted as part of the pluralistic constellation) if it wasn’t about a group that is relatively marginalized? i think part of the issue here is that homosexuality is not totally mainstreamed in much of the world, while racism has been marginalized. the irony here is that the very liberals who tend to support toleration for muslims also tend to believe that homosexuality should not be socially or legally sanctioned as impermissible. this i think poses some practical issues for muslims who as a religious belief still won’t disavow the passages which condone violent acts against said group. 
     
    finally, there are references to how one should treat slaves in the koran from what i recall. since it is permissible in the koran, that makes one wonder, slavery is obviously then not a fundamentally verbotten practice in the eyes of god for muslims, no? questions like this need to be posed, i do not accept that islam is unable to address these questions, because i do not believe it is a mathematically constructed system. it is a linguistic construct that leaves great room for elasticity. few us are believers here, so we can moot questions of like probabilities and how muslims might react to non-muslim social or legal pressure without worring that we are undermining deep transcendental truths.

  23. i ask that you tone down your language a bit in the interests of maintaining the dialogue [. . .] at least so that others don’t get swamped by the cross-talk. 
     
    No problem. My thanks for calling my attention to this.

  24. tx, much appreciated.

  25. replace homosexuality with black. would people be defending this statement as understandable in light of the religion 
     
    Replace it with Jew – an actual issue, and you will see that they do. 
     
    But if you want to see how Muslims can work around the obvious interpretation of their text, just look at their justifications for suicide bombing and the murder of innocents, both in seeming violation of Islamic law. 
     
    Where there’s a will there’s a way, unfortunately the will seems to be pointing in the other direction.

  26. Pardon me if I sound glib about working around obvious interpretations. The process by no means implies being disingenuous. Most religions have a very large number of values which they teach, it is very reasonable to look at the situation, and the relevant principles, and conclude that some other principle takes precedence in this particular case. The same thing happens under American law – look at all the controversies about the interpretation of secular law! Some people believe that the US Constitution guarantees the right to an abortion, some believe it is silent on the matter, and some believe it is prohibited by the Constitution!

  27. men are fallible and can be imprecise (the framers). god can not ;) or so they say….

  28. Razib, a Justice of the Supreme Court is not allowed to reinterpret the constitution because he thinks it’s wrong, he must base his interpretations on existing principles. The process is identical.

  29. “as an apostate i sympathize with you randy, and the two situations are not analogous because apostasy is in some ways more socially tolerated than homosexuality”. 
     
    Razib, 
    I dont believe you are an apostate.  
    When you say you are apostate, you give ammunition to the people who treat Islam as an ethnicity (remember the discussion on Hirshi Ali)  
    I have seen you talk about how you never believed, so you never left Islam if you never believed in it to begin with.  
    I am a better example of being an apostate, because I believed for years and years and then stopped believing. 
    I have a problem with people still referring to me as a Muslim even though I have left Islam.  
    The problem is compounded when a person like you who just happens to have Muslim parents refers to himself as an apostate.

  30. AM, 
     
    interesting point…but the reason i use the term apostate to describe myself isn’t because of an outside reference (the non-muslim world) but the way muslims define it. in the context of what randy is talking about, the death penalty against homosexuals, i would be subject to that punishment as well according to most interpretations of shariat. you are a muslim if your father is a muslim. but the very act of apostasy does indicate that islam isn’t an ethnicity, you can’t simply “leave” being black. 
     
    islamic law seems to distinguish between two types of apostates: those who were “born” muslim and those who converted and reverted to their natal religion. the former kind are treated a bit more…harshly it seems, as it is a more violent crime against nature. 
     
    as for as people treating you like a muslim, the easiest way to give them some perspective is ask them if they believe in god. if they say yes, tell them they’re gullible. that tends to change their mindset ;)

  31. Nice to a see a link to Abiola Lapite. Has he withdrawn his lawsuit against GNXP? (snicker)

  32. Further clarification from Choudhary, to wit: Personally, I am totally opposed to the stoning or capital punishment…. I abhor the idea and practice of stoning of homosexuals anywhere.  
     
    What I said was that I accept what the Quran says. The holy Quran does not state anywhere at all about the stoning of homosexuals. 
     
    That last point is affirmed by Zain Ali, as Randy quoted above.  
     
    I think comparing Choudhary (a Labour MP) to a guy who joined the Anti-Semitic Party misrepresents his position on public policy, to say the least. What is really in Choudhary’s heart? How does he really feel about homosexuality? Well, as long as he’s willing to defend and advance the rights of homosexuals in society, even at a potential political cost to himself, the issue of his deep-down personal feelings seems moot. Would Karl Lueger have done as much?  
     
    Yes, Choudhary’s comments were incredibly offensive. No, he probably doesn’t really believe that homosexuals should be executed. (We’ve already agreed on that.) And I didn’t question whether his comments were newsworthy (in the sense of being important enough to be re-reported); my grievance is with the way the news was produced, and the context (semantic and social) in which it was packaged as it zipped around the world. As Zain Ali pointed out, “I do feel totally let down by the double-dutch of Ashraf Choudhary, but then again I have heard him proclaim several times that he does not represent Muslims. Rather, he claims to represent New Zealand’s ethnic communities.” Yet, he is made to represent Muslims anyway, in New Zealand and around the world, even though he wasn’t enough of a theologian to know that the Qur’an per se doesn’t call for homosexual people to be stoned. (And can you blame him? After all, how many Christians, even non-homophobic ones, know that Jesus never condemns homosexuality in the Gospels, but specifically condemns divorce?) Because of that, 60 Minutes was able to trip him up with a question based on a false premise. And the rest is history.  
     
    Why does this bother me? I’ve been thinking about it for the last three days. Here’s a reason. The truth embodied in the phrase “Muslim homophobia” is like the truth embodied in the phrase “black criminality” or “Jewish liberalism” (as seen in that glowing Karl Lueger article linked above). What is it really telling us (most of whom are susceptible to certain cognitive biases) about “those people”?  
     
    In the U.S. forty years ago, it used to be standard procedure to identify the race of a suspected criminal, if he wasn’t white. Nowadays, it isn’t. There is an argument to be made (and some people make it) that the problem of violent criminality is more severe among black people than others, and therefore we shouldn’t be afraid to highlight and specifically condemn black crime as such. There is also an argument against doing that.

  33. Sorry. In newspaper articles, it used to be standard procedure.  
     
    And, I know, last word. I don’t expect or need a response. I just needed to get that off my chest. Hopefully, I’ve been able to explain my feelings on this a little better.

  34. No problem. As I said elsewhere, there are distinctly Muslim patterns of homophobia. India and Singapore, say, outlaw gay sex drawing upon the sorts of constitutional language used in the West, with the sorts of criminal penalties–fines, imprisonment–used in the West. That’s one tradition. 
     
    The tradition that has received perhaps its fullest elaboration in Iran, and which is echoed elsewhere in the Muslim world (not in the entire Muslim world, but still) is rather different. I can’t think of the last time someone was executed in western Europe for the crime of sodomy, for instance. A pattern of “Muslim homophobia” does, in fact, exist, is in fact eagerly claimed by its proponents. 
     
    Choudhary? He’s not one of that ilk. Worse, he belongs to the class of people who take it for granted.

  35. In conclusion, perhaps “black criminality” isn’t the association you should use. “German anti-Semitism,” perhaps?

  36. the problem with the analogy is that blacks don’t assume that it is constitutionally a matter of blackness that they should be criminals. jews don’t assume that it is constitutionally a matter of fact that they should be liberals (ok, once you get them to be serious ;). many muslims do seem to think that anti-homosexuality is a constitutional element of islam, see the reaction to muslimwakeup or manji. whether it is, or isn’t, a constitutional fact textually or axiomatically the perception is very strong that it is. if muslims don’t know the details of their faith, how they tell us what it is really about in the first place? (ie; peace, toleration, etc. etc.) 
     
    also, the analogy to blacks doesn’t work in that even if around half the criminals in the USA happen to be black (or whatever disproportionate you offer), most blacks aren’t criminals. i suspect that most muslims are personally opposed to homosexuality, and would be classed as homophobes, as are many christians in the world. the difference is that the homo-tolerant group of muslims are, in my opinion, a very small minority.

  37. most blacks aren’t criminals  
     
    true. but 1/3 of black males are in prison. and black criminality is more of a true generalization than german anti-semitism, today at least.

  38. well again, most black males aren’t criminals. and anyway, the 1/3 number is something in circulation that it is a mistatement, i thought this was “debunked” in the blogosphere a few years back. here it says that 12.6% of black males between the ages of 25-29 are in prison. or check this quote: 
     
    One in three black men between the ages of 20 and 29 years old is under correctional supervision or control. 
     
    the numbers drop off as you move up the age brackets (and of course, correctional supervision means parole).

  39. Yo dudes, 
     
    Let’s not get off on a “black criminality” tangent. (BTW in NYC where the crime rate has dropped radically young black men are no longer the objects of suspicion they once were. A subject for a Sailer/Leavitt debate, perhaps, but on another thread, please?) 
     
    Getting back to the Muslim homophobia, I find it noteworthy that it exists with a high degree of “queerness” as someone on Randy’s blog pointed out. (Afghanistan.) 
     
    Discuss.  
     
    Or is it too obvious? 
     
    Also, I don’t think that that imam was “ambushed” as Ikram defensively claimed. He said what was on his mind, honestly. 
     
    Yeah, sure, he’s no different from lotsa Jewish and Christian leaders, but the distinction is that in Western society religious leaders lead fractious organizations that are voluntary. In the Muslim world group adherence is hardly voluntary.

  40. Diana wrote: 
    Getting back to the Muslim homophobia, I find it noteworthy that it exists with a high degree of “queerness” 
     
    Yes, that’s what I’ve always been amused at also – there is an obvious dichotomy between theory and practice! 
     
    Remember the so called “American Taliban” John Walker Lindh, well he had a gay father, and as a teenager posted negative comments about gays in chat rooms, using nom de plumes like “Hine E. Craque”. Later he would go to Yemen to study Arabic and Islam, and then on to a madrasa in Pakistan, here’s what the above reference has to say about his relationships with his 2 main teachers in these respective countries : 
    Hayat met Lindh and took him on a tour of various madrasahs, searching for the perfect one from Karachi in the south to Peshawar in the northwest. The young American rejected them all and preferred remaining at Hayat’s side. He helped Hayat at his store, a prosperous business dealing in powdered milk. Hayat, who has a wife and four children, says he had sex with Lindh. “He was liking me very much. All the time he wants to be with me,” says Hayat, who has a good though not colloquial command of English. “I was loving him. Because love begets love, you know.” Lindh’s lawyers deny that their client engaged in homosexual relationships. 
     
    “He was ready to stay with me,” says Hayat, “but I pushed him into the madrasah.” Nevertheless, the businessman appears to be jealous of Lindh’s relationship with the teacher he recommended, Mufti Iltimas Khan. (Lindh, says Hayat, “loved me more.”) The mufti does not discuss the nature of his relationship with Lindh, though he seems happy to talk about the young man. “Everyone who saw him wanted to talk to him and to look at him and to look at his face. A very lovely face he had, John Walker.”
     
     
    So it would seem that these 2 teachers openly spoke of their physical attraction to Lindh, and may both have being having sex with him, and possibly squabbling over who would get be with him?!

  41. I would expect there to be more male-male sex in traditional Islamic societies, as there is a perpetual shortage of women, due to polygamy.  
     
    Of course, you don’t have to be homosexual to engage in male-male sex – just look at the US prison population – it is often about dominance and intiidation more than anything. Adoloscent male baboons allow more dominant males to mount them, in order to show submission.

  42. “I would expect there to be more male-male sex in traditional Islamic societies, as there is a perpetual shortage of women, due to polygamy.” 
     
    Then why don’t they change it? 
     
    I don’t find this at all convincing. How do we know what is cause & what is effect.

  43.  
    Also, I don’t think that that imam was “ambushed” as Ikram defensively claimed. He said what was on his mind, honestly.
     
     
    the “ambush” point is interesting to me, because it happens to conservative christians too. remember the do jews go to heaven controversies that erupt periodically? christians have, over the centuries, either shifted their view of their religion or they have developed subtle and slippery talking points (hate the sin, not the sinner, etc.) to deal with this. i think ambushes are good for western muslims becuase they need to grow up and engage a society where their values and beliefs aren’t accepted as normative. as it is, there is the kid-gloves treatment that many secular liberals give to the religion right now for fear of being termed racist, while frankly, most religious conservatives have a difficult time using the most appropriate rhetorical tools because so many of them can be turned against their own religion.

  44. OK fair enuf, mebbe he was “ambushed” but so what? Life is one ambush after another. Ambushes flush out the real you. 
     
    BTW I just read on Slate about Ali Al Timimi, of whom I had never heard previously. A violent Muslim extremist who preached hate against America and said that 9/11 was justified– 
     
    right in America. 
     
    Why are these people in our country? 
     
    He wasn’t ambushed, BTW. Some of the evidence against him was gained by wiretapes, I gather. (I read quickly) 
     
    Can someone please tell me what other religion has, at the core of their practice and not the fringes, such a collection of violent hatemongers who are dedicated to the destruction of America and the west?

  45. Ah my bad…Timimi was born & raised right here in the USofA, and was sent to a private, liberal, Jewish school… 
     
    http://www.militantislammonitor.org/article/id/580

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