The first time I heard the term ‘whataboutery’ was on a recent BBC Big Question’s debate regarding whether Human Rights has achieved more than religion over the course of human history. Aside from the unsubstantiated self-congratulating apologetics of many of the Human Rights supporters in the panel, what I found most annoying was Maryam Namazie’s frequent interruptions, appeals to emotion, question begging, and her shouting over MDI representative Abdullah Al-Andalusi as he was comprehensively detailing the cruel oppression of state actors through the use of ‘human rights’, showcasing that neither the former nor religion are immune from misuse or misinterpretation.

Whatever your opinion on Abdullah’s stance — or my own for that matter — I think what can be agreed upon is that Maryam wasn’t exactly gracious with her use of the ‘megaphone technique’ for discussion. Despite her typically unappealing and uncivilized behavior, one thing did catch my attention: her frequent utterance of the word ‘whataboutery’.

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Recently I published another academic article on my academia.edu profile titled, “The Archetype of Beauty in Islam”. Below I have provided the abstract and a brief excerpt of the article. For the full article, please follow the link. Enjoy. _________________________________________

Abstract: Beauty as a word has become an inseparable part of everyday communication. When uttered it is grasped and perceived immediately by the conjuring mind. Beauty as a concept, however, is littered with different interpretations and understandings as diverse as the languages and cultures that attempt to convey its meaning. Multiple philosophical treatises have arisen over the ages attempting to define exactly what beauty is and all have been the subject of disagreement and heated debate. Is the word  and the concept of beauty limited purely to its linguistic and cultural constructs — a subjective term projected by the individual level of aesthetic experience —  or is there a universal understanding of beauty that transcends the relative and unveils itself objectively to the entire human race? Likewise, is the practice of art able to similarly be understood and what is its connection with the ontology of beauty? If such a connection exists, is there an archetype which we can reference that not only adequately conveys our perception of what is beautiful, but conforms to the chosen definition? In order to address these questions we are required to adopt a sufficient paradigm—an ideological construct of interpretation—by which to make such assessments. We have chosen to confine our discussion through an Islamic perspective in our analysis of what constitutes as an archetype of beauty.  As such, ancient and contemporary Islamic views on the subject are addressed alongside non-Islamic sources so as to form a valid and objective method for identification of said “archetype” within the religious tradition. We concluded that the identity of the archetype within Islam is the masjid: the Muslim place of worship.

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God’s existence has been debated throughout the centuries – often fiercely, although most of the time a discussion for café enthusiasts who find the question the mark of a higher intellect; desiring the need to prove themselves worthy of the assumption. For most theists, the debate is considered a matter of common sense, not needing much proof at all, if. That is why it is the atheist who continues to bring this question to light, considering it the greatest aspect of their intelligence that they lack a belief in something. They always justify their endless skepticism about the existence of God because humanity must be “spared from the mythos of a primitive past”. Religion harms us all, so the very reality (or unreality) of the Divine must constantly be questioned until we are freed from our delusions – or so the story goes. Read More

Recent events have proven to be an obstacle towards dialogue centered on coexistence; only helping to marginalize the marginalized even further. The beginning of this year (2015), January 7th, once again not only showcased the position of dialogue and its power within civilization, but also how different the Western world approaches the concept compared to the majority of Muslims. Most importantly, the tragedy that occurred, which claimed the lives of 17 people by a small group of deranged young men shouting “Allahu Akbar” – as though to justify their delusions through religious mandate and their supposed offense of the Prophet Muhammad (salAllahu alayhi wasallam) having been depicted – was the worse tragedy of all. This event shocked and humiliated not only French society, but the world. All that could possibly follow from this was intense anger and sadness of which has not been seen in the West for some time. Protests sprung up across the globe, both on streets and social media, brandishing placards proclaiming, “Je Suis Charlie” (I Am Charlie) in solidarity with those massacred at the satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo. Despite the murderers having been brought to justice in a long gun fight that resulted in them being killed, the severity of the backlash was not softened in the least. Shortly thereafter, millions came to the newspaper’s aid in the form of hundreds of thousands of dollars in funds and world leaders making emergency visits to Paris to march alongside already enraged protesters. Not only this, but the newspaper ended up printing nearly up to three million copies of its newest issue – commemorating those who had died from these attacks – all the while drawing yet another Prophet Muhammad (sallAllahu alayhi wasallam) cartoon, smack in the middle of the cover, holding a placard declaring “Je Suis Charlie”, while saying “All is forgiven.”

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“Boko Haram” is some group somewhere in Africa doing something wrong while claiming to be Islamic.

That’s about as much I knew or cared to know when I heard the news of some school girls being kidnapped. Not that I’m unsympathetic, but I didn’t much think it had anything to do with me or what I believed — naturally then, my interests would go no further than thinking this a horribly immoral act and hoping justice would be delivered by the proper authorities in the region. However, much to my dismay, I and the rest of the Muslim world are routinely called upon to denounce acts of violence in the name of Islam, for no other reason than the fact that we are somehow responsible.

And this is why I refuse to speak out; I should not be held responsible in any way for the actions and beliefs of others simply because we share the same label. By proxy, I refuse to give in to a narrative perpetuated by a culture of coercive disapproval, which threatens to place me in the same camp as extremists simply because they do not happen to hear my voice of opposition every time the media decides to highlight another act of violence in the middle east or elsewhere. Every time I stand up and say “that’s not me”, I am implicitly giving in to the idea that I am never free to define myself; I am never free of guilt. Always having to defend myself is not indicative of a free identity, but of a person on trial, whose jury doesn’t operate on the principle of “innocent until proven otherwise.”

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BismillahiRahmaniRahim. La Hawla Wala Quwwata illa Billah. Hasbunallahu wa ni’mal Wakil. 

I offer asalaamu’alaykum warahmatullahi wabarakatuh to Shaykh Abdal Hakim Murad.

I pray this letter reaches you in the best of health and iman. I write this in a public setting given that I feel it is beneficial for others to see this address. I would also hope that you don’t mind, given that the issue I am writing to you about has already been openly endorsed and explained from your end. I suppose then that this letter is not simply directed towards you, but also everyone else that has supported the #HappyMuslims project.

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