Red Lines on BP

I prefer the motto “Nothing is Sacred.”

I do think personal insults & abuse are below the line.

However there is a difference between Islamophobia (abusing people because they are Muslim) and criticising Islam.

To apply this to the Bahá’í faith; I obviously would be sensitive about my Prophet but at the same time criticising my faith doesn’t necessarily mean that I am being criticised.

as a good rule of thumb we should try and avoid gratuitous abuse in any scenario but intellectual questions are necessary.

25 thoughts on “Red Lines on BP”

  1. i have no interest in helping host 4chan 😉

    that being said, it’s creepy when your friend kabir says the prophet is a ‘red line.’ that’s understandable and normative in the islamic world, but i don’t live in the islamic world for a reason (ie they might kill me).

    also, the problem with ‘islamophobia’ and frankly ‘antisemitism’ is the elision that commonly happens to protect religious beliefs or national identity (in case of israel). though at least antisemitism is clearly focused on the people, as opposed to the jewish religion or israeli state. but sometimes hardcore zionist jews purposely conflate antisemitism to dampen criticism of israel.

    and this religious feelings thing seems a general south asian tendency, as sikhs and hindus are getting in on the game (though some of them claim they are just doing what musims do?). do christians co this much?

    1. Good points all around R

      I went to see Jesus Christ Super Star with my friend who is an atheist but was a practising Christian till the age of 26. she happened to a vicar’s daughter and she was telling me that for her parents and brother (who are evangelical) they would be weeping as the narrative was so real ..

      I think there is a point that religious figures are “real” to their adherents (Baha’u’llah is a living force in my life) but my *subjective reality* cannot be imposed on anyone else..

    2. Why is it “creepy” when I say that Rasul-e-Akram (peace be upon him) should not be insulted? I would show basic respect to my Christian friends by not insulting Jesus Christ (though I don’t believe he is the Son of God). Obviously, I am not one of those who thinks that as an ex-Muslim you are “wajib ul qatal”. I simply don’t want the Prophet of God called a child molester. If that is going to happen, then I have no choice but to pack up and go. It is not good for my mental health to read screeds against Allah or the Prophet of God. I am much much less “religious” than most Pakistanis. If you want to engage the Pakistani audience, you need to be respectful of the red lines. But if you don’t want to engage the Pakistani audience that’s your choice.

      Try criticizing what Israel is doing in Gaza right now as I write. In the US, you will be accused of being “Antisemitic” in five seconds. It seems that Muslims are the only group that it is totally kosher to insult.

  2. @Zachary

    You define Islamophobia as “abusing people because they are Muslim”. What would you call a fear or worry about Islam as an idea? Can the latter be discussed without impinging on the rights of Muslims as people? I’m curious because it sometimes frustrates discussion when people change this definition to suit rhetorical needs.

    1. I welcome the discussion of Islam – I think one shouldn’t necessarily gratuitously abuse.

      For instance I clamped down pretty harshly on Kabir for the “monkey god”’ comments as I thought it was unnecessarily offensive.

      If anything the events of last week The point of BP is civil discussions of contentious ideas.

      1. Over the years I have noticed your efforts keep this blog lively and engaging. The issue with clamping down on a comment like “monkey god” is that it is a slippery slope that motivated posters/commenters can use to push the envelope further and justify shutting down legitimate discussion of ideas (be it Islam, Vedic religion or whatever) or actions of religiously important figures. For that reason, as a reader, I tend to be ok with reading comments like “monkey god”.

        Gratuitous abuse or ad-hominem attacks usually malign the one who launches them more than the target, as long as they are not launched anonymously. However, I understand where you are coming from.

    2. “Fear or worry about Islam as an idea”–there is no one “Islam”. To believe that there is is essentialist. The Holy Quran has passages calling for war against the “infidel” but there is also a Sura where the Prophet of God (peace be upon him) says “To you is your religion and to me is my religion. Let there be no compulsion in religion”.

      The Old Testament (Jewish Bible) has some very angry passages. But in the New Testament, Jesus says things like “Turn the other cheek” and “Blessed are the meek”. It’s all about what you choose to emphasize. That’s why Literary Interpretation is an important skill.

      1. @Kabir
        I was referring to Islam as an idea, which on another thread you agreed has some essential unchanging characteristics like final prophethood, and referred to the discussion of such unchanging elements in it. I am curious whether/why the people who criticize/worry about it are seen by believers & some others as transgressing; and how legitimate the curbs on such perceived transgressions may be.

        I apologize if it came across that instead of talking about the idea, I referred to the practices of muslims as people who adhere to it in various degrees; i do agree that there is no essentialism in lived religion. This confusion is why I sought two different words (Islamophobia and Muslimphobia perhaps?) to clearly delineate the two and avoid confusion between criticizing an idea and a people.

        I’m unsure why you are introducing Judaism and Christianity. Are you trying to say that other religions also have internal contradictions? I would like to learn and discuss more about them as well, but on their own terms sufficiently before comparing them with Islam or anything else. In my experience, conflating too many concepts often muddy the waters more than it adds clarity. Thank you.

        1. Judaism and Christianity–like Islam– are the so-called “Abrahamic” religions. They arose out the same tradition. It is Islamic belief that because the Jews and the Christians did not listen to the prophets previously sent by Allah to them and turned away from Him, He then needed to send down Rasul-e-Akram (peace be upon him) with the final message, which was supposed to be for all times and for all peoples. That message has never been superseded and never will be superseded. That is why Muslims believe that Hazrat Adam was the first Muslim and that all the other Jewish prophets and Jesus were Muslims as well. We revere Jesus as a Prophet but simply don’t consider him the Messiah or the Son of God. Isa and Musa are fairly common names for Muslim boys.

          Yes, all religions have internal contradictions. The God of the Torah is really angry and focused on how He destroyed the world several times. In the New Testament, God is merciful and sends down his only son to die for our sins.

          “Islamophobia” is equivalent to “Antisemitism”. We don’t speak of “Judeophobia”. Trying to make t0o neat a division between “Islam” (Submission”) and “Muslims” (those who submit) doesn’t work.

  3. . What would you call a fear or worry about Islam as an idea?

    for many of us this is just plain rational. non-muslims have a tough time in many muslim countries.

      1. Kabir, why do you think muslims have a tough time in India? Do African Americans have a tough time in America too? Who do you think has a harder time?

        The question is one of degree. Compared to what? I would argue that Indian muslims have more freedom than muslims in any other large country other than the US and Canada. [Malaysian and Indonesian muslims have a lot of economic freedom but cannot openly discuss religion as much as Indian muslims can.]

        1. @Anan,
          I think the freedom you refer to is more important in an environment where basics are taken care of. Perhaps Indian muslims are freer to discuss Islam than muslims in SE Asia, and elite Indian muslims have a higher standing in the their society than elite western muslims do, but does all this mean anything at all when any non-elite Indian muslim can be dealt mob-justice by vigilantes and denied justice (or delayed justice that is basically denied justice)? With all respect, it is a dark comedy to point to ideological freedom in India when basic security of life and limb is lacking.

          1. Rahul you bring up important points for me to reflect on.

            Are there aggregate statistics on crime directed against muslims in India? I find most of India–especially villages–to be remarkably safe [much of Delhi and Agra being exceptions] but would love to be corrected if this is not so.

            A few years ago there was a lot of misleading press coverage of unarmed black men being killed by cops. The total number of black unarmed males killed by cops in the US in 2016 that I could find were sixteen. This clearly appears to be a media driven sensation. Could reports of crime against Indian muslims be analogous? I don’t know.

            Is it possible that anti muslim crime in India mostly takes place in a small number of districts; much the way police abuse of black males takes place in a small number of counties in America?

            I love data sets, statistics, econometrics and data driven analysis (which is one reason I like Razib Khan so much).

          2. @Anan
            “Are there aggregate statistics on crime directed against muslims in India? I find most of India–especially villages–to be remarkably safe [much of Delhi and Agra being exceptions] but would love to be corrected if this is not so.”

            I don’t have such statistics and am curious about it as well. I agree with you that data makes everything much clearer. As with anti-black violence in USA, there is a degree of amplification of scale due to motivated selective coverage. However, there have been sufficient such crimes documented (eg: the man lynched for holding beef in Dadri, the boy murdered in a train last year, the little girl raped and murdered in a hindu temple recently etc…) for there to be such a pervasive fear and sense that Muslims cannot challenge Hindus as equals without fearing violence. Do you think evidence that the number of such deadly attacks is small in proportion is sufficient to convince those fearful of their life to stop worrying?

            Regarding villages, many of them are segregated by religion and caste unlike the cities where different people live in close proximity. In villages, there is less interaction that challenges one’s biases. In addition, static societies are generally safer than those in the throes of change. When uppity dalits (in India) or Hindus/Atheists (in Bangladesh) challenge the previously accepted dominance of elite groups, violence is more likely. Would you prefer the erstwhile static, segregated village society where an unjust peace prevails, over a more violent but also more mobile India today? The challenge is to have a mobile society that also provides freedom of expression. Can India do it? Again, I apologize that much of my rhetoric is unsupported by data and references.

          3. @Anan
            “Are there aggregate statistics on crime directed against muslims in India? I find most of India–especially villages–to be remarkably safe [much of Delhi and Agra being exceptions] but would love to be corrected if this is not so.”

            I don’t have such statistics and am curious about it as well. I agree with you that data makes everything much clearer. As with anti-black violence in USA, there is a degree of amplification of scale due to motivated selective coverage. However, there have been sufficient such crimes documented (eg: the man lynched for holding beef in Dadri, the boy murdered in a train last year, the little girl raped and murdered in a hindu temple recently etc…) for there to be such a pervasive fear and sense that Muslims cannot challenge Hindus as equals without fearing violence. Do you think evidence that the number of such deadly attacks is small in proportion is sufficient to convince those fearful of their life to stop worrying?

            Regarding villages, many of them are segregated by religion and caste unlike the cities where different people live in close proximity. In villages, there is less interaction that challenges one’s biases. In addition, static societies are generally safer than those in the throes of change. When uppity dalits (in India) or Hindus/Atheists (in Bangladesh) challenge the previously accepted dominance of elite groups, violence is more likely. Would you prefer the erstwhile static, segregated village society where an unjust peace prevails, over a more violent but also more mobile India today? The challenge is to have a mobile society that also provides freedom of expression. Can India do it? Again, I apologize that much of my rhetoric is unsupported by data and references.

        2. Indian Muslims are being lynched for eating beef. An 8-year old Gujjar Bakerwal girl was raped in Kathua District in an attempt to drive the Gujjar Bakerwals out of the area. The Babri Mosque was torn down because supposedly “Lord Ram” (not a real person) was “born” there. The Mosque actually existed. “Lord Ram” not so much.

          African Americans obviously have a tough time in America. They are shot at by police with impunity. That is why “Black Lives Matters” exists.

      2. perhaps muslins in india should be hinduphobic. at least RSSphobic.

        my point is that no matter the diversity of islam the question is: are you going to kill us? if a big enough minority will then that’s the primary issue (i am one-degree separated personally from bangladeshi bloggers who were killed for their atheism/secularism, so not abstract).

        1. “Are you going to kill us?” And there, ladies and gentlemen, is exhibit A: Anti-Muslim bigotry on display. This is disgusting.

          No one is going to kill you if you are sitting in the United States. I am personally not interested in killing anyone. Yes, there are people who will argue that since you have made a point of openly leaving your father’s religion (going by the Muslim name), you are “wajib ul qatal”. They are obviously crazies. I personally believe Allah will deal with you on the Day of Judgement and am content to leave it up to Him what he chooses to do with you.

          1. Perhaps if you don’t go around publicly announcing that you are an ex-Muslim, you will face less problems.

            There are lots of “Muslims” who barely practice the religion. But for form’s sake, we say that we believe in Allah and in the Prophet of God. Especially if we have family in Muslim countries.

            For Islamophobes, it doesn’t matter whether you practice or not. They will see your name and your place of origin and decide you should be banned from the US. That is disgusting.

      3. Great economist article this week on how bigoted south Asian majorities are — Buddhists in Sri Lanka and Bhutan, Hindus in India and Nepal, Muslims in Bdesh and Pak.

        Anti minority communal violence across the board.

        A question for brown pundits of all faiths (Hindu, Muslim, Buddhist) — why are south asian majorities so violent and hateful against minorities?

        https://www.economist.com/news/asia/21740416-no-conspiracy-theory-about-minorities-too-implausible-cause-outrage-why-south-asias-majorities

  4. satire and bursting the bubble of religion should be an option, else it all becomes tribal. everyone will start counting the increasing numbers and demographic change all the time. everyone will start picking sides all the time.tribalism will increasingly become dominant as though there were no option .

    we should consider the harm we are avoiding, the good that can be done. a fundamentalist group might very well complain against others including fellow religious people. what might be ok for liberal believers might very well be bad for fundamentalist believers.And in multi religious society, there is much competition on all fronts including competition by competing fundamentalist groups. For example blasphemy laws came into India first due to article 295 A, introduced by british in aftermath of ilm ud din assassinating the publisher of ranglia rasool which was done in retaliation for muslims calling Hindu goddess sita as prostitute. The result was that the publisher was assassinated, the murderer ilm ud din was given death sentence, he was defended in court by Jinnah, the founder of pakistan. His funeral attracted over 10,000 muslims and supposedly his funeral prayer was lead by Iqbal, the ideological founder of pakistan, soon, blasphemy law was introduced. Later after Independence. Nehru introduced the first amendment in article 19 (2) regarding freespeech. These two laws among others have been used to silence opponents. Consequence has been that Hindus too have begun to use these laws to try to silence. Its a show of power, a way to put people in their place.

    There were no blasphemy laws in Indian history before, Therefore there are many stories that speak of ill of certain actions of the gods. Rival believers of different gods make up stories of ill action of other gods and as a result people abandon the belief in those gods to other gods or become buddhists or jains or atheists etc.

    https://defence.pk/pdf/threads/jinnahs-only-lost-case-defending-the-killer-of-a-blasphemer-ghazi-ilm-deen-r-h.87158

    Apparently it was the only case Jinnah lost. And he fought the case under request of Iqbal.

    What I will agree though is on blasphemy for the sake of it or to intentionally keep taunting people. It is plain rude and a disgusting behavior. being sensitive to others is fine.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *