Originally posted on ISMAweb.
On 6th April 2016, at the International Islamic University of Malaysia (IIUM), I and another brother by the name of Muhammad Kashmiri were invited to participate in an event called “Mars vs. Venus”, which goal was to “highlight the status of women in Islam and give a clear understanding of women’s rights and duties…also to point out the responsibilities of both men and women in making a better world and participating in achieving a bright future.”
Prior to the program, the organizers requested to have a meeting to discuss how we would contribute. I went with my wife to meet the organizers at the university library, who were made up entirely of women. We sat for nearly two hours going over logistics and also what role I and Muhammad would be playing. Essentially, that night we all agreed that the program would begin at 8 pm, start with an opening speech by a woman, followed by academic lectures given by women, a spoken word performed by a woman, a play conducted by women (called “Her Confessions”), and then finally ending off at 9:45 pm with a debate between myself and Muhammad on the topic of “Do Muslim Women Need Feminism?” – followed by a short question and answer session with a shared panel between all the event participants. Despite Muhammad’s protest at being chosen to defend feminism, he accepted on the condition that he would be able to qualify himself during his opening speech. In other words, neither he nor I wanted to defend feminism – and the women organizers didn’t want us to either. Why? Because of the shared understanding between us that Islam was sufficient for granting women their rights.
Once upon a time, there lived two societies, each on its own island separated by the ocean. Neither remembered exactly how they got there or when the separation occurred, but both agreed that it was due to a conflict long ago when they were all crew members on the same ship. Eventually that ship crashed along the reef. Afterwards, the desire for power and resources drove them to eventually split.
In Part 1 we examined the basic arguments for God’s existence, the concept of the fitrah – otherwise known as ‘intuition’ – and how it works. In this part we will elucidate the justification behind the intuition’s existence, how evidence is not always necessary, and how belief in God is intuitively justifiable.
God’s existence, or lack thereof, has been debated throughout human history. Theists and atheists alike have offered their best arguments to justify their positions on the matter, with most philosophers concluding that the discussion thus far has only resulted in a stalemate. Although the majority of the world concurs with the proposition that God does indeed exists, overwhelming support should not be considered a determinant in any debate; even if the majority of the world were atheists, this would not settle the question as to who is right or wrong.
In fact, despite still being the minority view, atheism is on the rise globally, having become the fastest growing position on faith and religion in almost every society on the planet. This has especially been the case within Muslim-majority societies; with an overall 3% declaring themselves atheists, another 3% declaring that they are undecided, and 20% declaring that they are non-religious in general. These facts have startled religious scholars and politicians alike from Saudi Arabia to Egypt, with the former reacting rashly by defining atheism as a form of “terrorism”, and the latter being so completely unprepared to tackle the subject intellectually, that it has arrested and jailed many individuals for simply being atheists.
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’.
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.
Recently I published an article in the Journal of Islam and Civilisational Renewal entitled “The Rise and Decline of Scientific Productivity in the Muslim World: A Preliminary Analysis”. Below I have provided the abstract and a brief excerpt of the article. For further reading, please subscribe to the journal. Enjoy.
Abstract: Scientific productivity has been in decline in the Muslim world since as early as the 15th century and is only now reviving. Many factors have been attributed to the rise and decline, falling under two broad categories: external and internal influences. The popular understanding of scientific decline in the Muslim world, known as the ‘classical narrative’ promulgated by orientalists, suggests that only external influences – mainly the synthesis of Persian and Greek elements of civilisation into the Arab imperialist project – were the reasons for the sharp rise of the sciences within Islamic civilisation. Simultaneously, this narrative also suggests that internal influences, exemplified in the impact of Al-Ghazālī’s thought towards a more conservative religious approach — as opposed to the more ‘rationalist’ elements of the Mutazilite School of theology – played the most significant role in decline. This paper shows that the classical narrative is invalid, that there were more legitimate factors at play in both the rise and decline of science in the Muslim world, and that the contemporary stagnation in scientific productivity is a result of this misunderstanding.