It tends to be the case, that those without legitimate argument, or consideration, resort to the most ludicrous and uninspired diatribes, just to be heard. Their thoughtless minds crave recognition beyond what they are actually capable of achieving through serious inquiry and comment. This is true of my newest – and I’d say, most ridiculous – critic. In his article on ‘Western Man’s Hatred For Muhammad’, Hakeem Muhammad makes a lot of points. Mainly aimed at me. The theme overall is, if you criticise the Prophet Muhammad, you’re a racist. I will seek to discredit practically everything his ridiculous article had to say, point by point. But first, allow me to demonstrate what kind of person we’re dealing with. When, on twitter, someone referred to Hakeem as the village idiot, Hakeem replied:
– So, that’s the level of debate we’re dealing with. To the point where, my white windowsill, in Hakeem’s mind, can only mean that I don’t think black paint worthy enough to circle my window.
Whilst analysing the points Hakeem raises in his article, keep close in your mind, the fact that he thinks the phrase ‘village idiot’ is a racist slur.
The fallacies keep on coming. When one tweet from an Atheist read “oh god!” Hakeem, ingeniously jumped in with:
– Yes! Exactly! If I say “unicorn” it invariably means I must believe that unicorns exist.
So, onto the points. I have identified six key points, that I wish to address:
“…the egotistical belief of Western man that anyone other than a white man could have such power and meaning in the world.”
– Here Hakeem has completely exhausted the object of ‘Western man’. All Western men (apparently this doesn’t apply to women) cannot possibly stand anyone but a white man in a position of power. All Western men. All of them. When he notes ‘all’, this suggests an in-built trait. Perhaps a subconscious cultural trait, that ALL Western men cannot escape. We filter out any social and intellectual progress, if it happened to come from someone with darker skin, according to Hakeem. This means, ALL Western scholars in any field, naturally do not pay attention to established science, if it has come from someone with darker skin. That’s the suggestion Hakeem is making with his ill-thought out phrasing. The word ‘all’ is key. So, if someone wants to point out to Hakeem that the President of the USA is not a white man, and that at least one white man, must have voted for the President, that’d be great. On this point alone, Hakeem falls short of logic a five year old could see through.
Secondly, because it is aimed at me, I trust Hakeem will do the decent thing, read through my articles on American politics, and note my support for President Obama (I base my support of the President, on his values; race is meaningless to me), and my articles describing the horrendous racism of certain Republicans in the US. Such as, my article on Dan Riehl, for example. I will not be misrepresented, by someone trying to score cheap points, simply because he has no reasonable contribution to make to this debate.
My beliefs are based on concepts; secularism, democracy, social justice, equality, science. Race plays no part. Race is meaningless. By shaping criticism or satire of Islam, as a race issue, Hakeem loses, because he fails to answer the criticisms of the faith itself, choosing instead to reframe our arguments, to suit his nonsense. It is ideological supremacy and anchored morality that I object to.
He also fails to note the horrendous racism pushed by Islamic scholars (including the Prophet) in the past. More on that, in point 4. Faith is colourless. It is simply an idea. A concept. Like Communism, like Capitalism; both colourless. Islam is no different. It is therefore open to all forms of ridicule and critique that every idea is open to.
“futileDemocracy” (whose criticisms I will respond to in a later article). My critic states that he became an atheist “by discovering that Thomas Paine, Charles Darwin, and John Stuart Mill were greater than every prophet combined.” All of his ideological role models are white men. It is only one of many examples that illustrate that Western man only looks to white men as a source of enlightenment in this world; in their minds, only a white man is capable of holding such a position of esteem.”
– Firstly, I didn’t “become” an Atheist. I’ve never had faith. Right from birth. Hakeem became a Muslim. Paine, Darwin, and Mill simply strengthen my lack of faith and my displeasure at religious prejudice and privilege within the public realm. The second point Hakeem lazily makes is that by only mentioning three white men (this was in a tweet, by the way), I am quite obviously an awful racist. So, let’s follow that line of reasoning through: I also only mentioned men. I must therefore be an awful, racist, misogynist. I also only mentioned three heterosexual men. I must therefore be an awful, racist, misogynist, homophobe. I also only mentioned three English-born men. I must therefore be an awful, racist, misogynist, homophobe, who hates anyone who isn’t English. I also only mentioned three English men, all born below Junction 30 of the M1. I must therefore be an awful, racist, misogynist, homophobe, who hates anyone who isn’t born between Chesterfield, and the English Channel. Do you see how intensely irrational this logic is? Even more so, when we point out that Islam, is not a race. Perhaps he is then suggesting, that I have couldn’t possibly consider the thoughts of an Arab to be important to my personal values. Not true either. As my article on the great Arab free-thinker, Al-Ma’arri suggests. I end this article with:
“And that is what makes Al-Ma’arri – one of the few I name as personal heroes – worthy of greatness.”
– Predictably, Hakeem ignored the entire post in which I write just how much of a genius Al-Ma’arri was, but circled in on one particular sentence, to prove my awful white supremacy. Here:
“As far your admiration of Al-Ma’arri goes, even your praise of him takes racist overtones:
“Al-Marri seems to us, to be better suited to walking and talking in the streets of 19th Century Philadelphia with Thomas Paine, or sitting around a fire place, with a whiskey, deep in discussions in the mid-20th Century with Bertrand Russell, or joining Christopher Hitchens or Sam Harris on stage for merciless debates with religious apologists in the early 21st Century; than he does to the Middle Ages.”
Were the people of color that were Al-Marrie’s intellectual contemporaries to unworthy for him? So much so that he needed white philosophers, white scientists, and white neo-atheists to have a dialogue with? Why do you want to take a thinker of color and say he is better suited to be in modern white supremacist society?”
– Again, I could also point out that the people mentioned are all men, and so it must prove my inherent misogyny. I could also point out that they’re all heterosexual, which must prove my inherent homophobia.
To his first point, no. The people ‘of colour’ were not ‘unworthy of him’. That entirely misses the point. Al-Ma’arri was an Enlightenment thinker, centuries before the Enlightenment. I simply suggest he is better suited to Enlightenment era, than the Theocratic era that he existed within. Race, again, is meaningless. It is the ideological atmosphere that I refer to, not skin tone. It is as irrelevant as eye colour, to the point I was making. To suggest otherwise is hideously manipulative. Al Ma’arri happened to live in the Middle East, so of course he is surrounded by people of Middle Eastern origin. Their race to this discussion, is meaningless. It is Hakeem who calls him “a thinker of color”. Ignoring his thoughts, his ideas, and his character entirely. Again, Hakeem introduces race. Not me.
I maintain that all supremacy based on traits or beliefs, are a great evil. Supremacy based on race, gender, sexuality, or religion are cancerous. They necessitate an unwelcome, and unjustifiable usurping of power for one specific group, and that cannot be spun to be acceptable. Equal rights under the law, and the democratic right to choose who you wish to place into positions of power is the very best and fairest system of governance the World has thus far imagined. And it works. Hakeem is angry, because his desire for a system based on patriarchy, hetereosexual, Theocratic supremacy… has no justification, and must be called out for the dangerous poison that it is.
Equally, had a white European, in 8th Century Europe, surrounded by deadly Papal power, produced works that would not be replicated until the Enlightenment, then I would suggest he (or she, gay, or straight, bald, or hairy) would also be better suited to the home of the Enlightenment too. Race, is meaningless. Hakeem reduces human beings down to what colour their skin is at every possible opportunity. Their achievements, are irrelevant to Hakeem. It is also important to note that the Prophets of Islam, are all Middle Eastern. Does this mean Hakeem must have a severe hatred for white Europeans? Or Chinese people? or anyone not from the Middle East? By his own mode of reasoning, that’s exactly what it means.
“Western man only looks to white men as a source of enlightenment.”
He takes this, from three names I mentioned on twitter, as his source. It is absurd to suggest that ‘Western men’ seek out white men, to the dismissal of anyone with darker skin, for progression of thought. Absurd, and insulting. We simply don’t see race as an issue. We can admire Thomas Paine without seeing his skin colour. Similarly, we can admire Nelson Mandela, Rosa Parks, or Frederick Douglass, with the same colourless admiration. I am certain those three, would wish us to see them, without race. Our Western society is built, maintained, and progressed by different races, sexualities, genders. All of those are irrelevant to the forward march of progress. Their aims, goals, and ideas are what is important, or as Martin Luther King summarises: The content of their character.
Hakeem’s constant attempts to categorise all Western men, is becoming eerily similar to the racism he apparently doesn’t like.
Hakeem’s nonsense continues:
“You are so misguided by white privilege that you cannot even think of such basic racialized barriers to such discussions and want to absorb thinkers of color into your white philosophical traditions.”
– This is a beautifully crafted line of condescension and idiocy in which Hakeem, again, exhausts the object. I struggle to know where to begin. Firstly, I am almost certain that people who are not white, yet promote secularism, democracy, and the scientific method would be insulted at the suggestion that they are “absorbed into white philosophical traditions”. Hakeem is obsessed with race. He summarises my positions – secularism, democracy, atheism – as ‘white’ traditions. Here, he completely disenfranchises anyone who isn’t white, who has made valuable contributions to the progression of Western traditions. Frederick Douglass, dismissed. Democrat and secularist, Martin Luther King, dismissed. Rosa Parks, breaking down racial barriers, dismissed. Neil deGrasse Tyson, dismissed. Nelson Mandela, dismissed. Recently, Maryam Namazie and her commitment to freedom of expression, and women’s rights, dismissed. All of these people – democrats, secularists, feminists, humanists – are important names in the progress of what Hakeem calls “white philosophical traditions”. Hakeem’s refusal to acknowledge such wonderful names in the development of Western thought, goes to prove that his main problem is quite simply; those people aren’t advocating a Theocratic, Islamic Empire, and therefore, must be racist.
Hakeem then issues a diatribe of complete irrelevance, at the beliefs of Charles Darwin. Two points need to be made here. Firstly, I couldn’t care less what Darwin personally believed, about, well, anything. I don’t care what his favourite drink was. I don’t care if he slept around. I don’t care if he stripped naked in public and scared old ladies. I couldn’t care less. My admiration for Charles Darwin is derived from his most wonderful discovery and his method. The very basis of modern biology, zoology, medicine, rests on the discovery Darwin so brilliantly made. Similarly, I enjoy the art of Caravaggio (a white, straight man; I’m so racist/sexist/homophobic). My admiration for Caravaggio’s works, in no way suggests I condone the terrible crimes he committed.
Secondly, only a fool/religious fanatic, would choose to place Darwin, the man, in the context of the 21st Century. Hakeem writes his confused mess from a point of privilege that Darwin didn’t have the luxury of; because of the wonderful developments in genetics, and biology in the 100+ years since Darwin’s death, Hakeem has the hindsight to show us where Darwin was mistaken. Darwin did not have 21st century information, in the middle of the 19th Century. Darwin was of course influenced by the prejudices of his era. He also did not have a fully developed evolutionary theory. He was also limited by the prejudicial lexicon of his day, which is why we often see him use the term ‘savages’. Evolutionary theory, was in its infancy, and had centuries of religious intolerance, power, and dogma to contend with.
Darwin published The Origin of Species in 1858, the same year as the famous Lincoln/Douglas debates. The slavery question had plagued both sides of the Atlantic for centuries, and now, in order to attempt to justify the unjustifiable, pro-slavery advocates were looking for ‘scientific’ rationale for the institution, given that religious logic wasn’t cutting it anymore. Arguments coming out of the pro-slavery camp, from writers like Fitzhugh, and Lewis Henry Morgan, were used to back up the prevalent idea at the time, that the African American race, had fallen away from God, become ‘uncivilised’ and had no way of improving that condition. It was religious based logic.
This wasn’t lost on Muslims either. Ibn Khaldun (whose statue stands in Tunisia today) in the 15th Century said:
“The only people who accept slavery are the Negroes, owing to their low degree of humanity and proximity to the animal stage.”
– Hakeem of course, in trying to protect the vile structure of religious abuse and dogma, conveniently chooses to absent Islamic racist history, because it doesn’t work to strengthen the system of horrendous power he advocates.
Of course, Western religious writers were just as racist. John T. Roberts in 1878, wrote the book “Adamites and Preadamites” in which he suggests that Adam, was the father of the white race, and the black race, came from ‘preadamites’, who were to be treated like animals, as God had, by putting them on the ark, equal to animals. This is the level of racial prejudice advanced in Darwin’s time. It was largely based on religion, but now demanded ‘scientific’ rationale to back it up. Darwin did not offer that. If he were truly basing his work, on white supremacy, his findings would have been far different, and far similar to other notable naturalists at the time, whose findings were all made to fit racial prejudice. Darwin however, was neither trying to prove the ‘white race’ superior, nor disprove it. He was trying to rationalise the very very limited evidence he had gathered. Here, in The Descent of Man from 1871, we see just how groundbreaking his research was, in breaking down the notions of white supremacy that dominated every aspect of life in mid-19th Century:
“I was incessantly struck, whilst living with the Feugians on board the “Beagle,” with the many little traits of character, shewing how similar their minds were to ours; and so it was with a full-blooded negro with whom I happened once to be intimate.”
– He was ‘incessantly struck’. Which suggests, the whole idea of such close similarities between races, up until that very moment, for Darwin, was unthinkable. This demonstrates the World he inhabited, the subconscious prejudices he inherited, and the importance of his work on progressing scientific understanding of ‘race’.
He then completely blows away the argument that the ‘white race’ and ‘black race’ are from two separate lines ordained by God as superior and inferior:
“As it is improbable that the numerous and unimportant points of resemblance between the several races of man in bodily structure and mental faculties (I do not here refer to similar customs) should all have been independently acquired, they must have been inherited from progenitors who had these same characters.”
– An incredibly revolutionary idea for the time. Hakeem though, sees Darwin as being static. Like Muhammad. Whose thoughts are timeless. He is entirely incapable of understanding the difference between dogma, and method. Enlightenment methods, are what I appreciate. The famous names of the Enlightenment, I do not seek to emulate their personal lives and beliefs. They are not infallible. They were subject to the same cultural prejudices that we all are. Hakeem, cannot understand that concept. Being religious, dogma is all he knows.
Darwin, whilst of course still displaying 19th Century prejudice, still managed to advance the argument beyond the understanding of the time. Darwin argued that people are not different species, that all people are descended from ‘savages’, that religion plays no part in the advancement of civilisation as suggested by his contemporaries, and that it was culture responsible for progression, not biological traits. He overturned the common ideas on race in the 21st Century, by providing scientific explanations. Of course, science is incomplete, and that was true of Darwin’s time. Darwin absolutely managed to somewhat break the barriers of the time. He was not a Prophet, he was not in contact with the Divine, and therefore, he cannot transcend the time period.
Unfortunately for Hakeem, the same cannot be said for the Prophet Muhammad. The Prophet is in contact with a Being that can absolutely transcend all confines of time, which makes His laws, binding forever. His view is as ‘right’ in 7th Century Middle East, is it is in 21st Century Britain, according to Muslims.
And yet, that Being doesn’t see fit to tell the Prophet that it might be unwise to marry a 9 year old girl, that it might lead to problems surrounding child marriage in future Patriarchal Islamic nations, and that, actually, it is just wrong. It just isn’t on His list of cares. He intervenes to tell the Prophet to pray facing Mecca, yet doesn’t bother to intervene to prevent the Prophet marrying a child. Which suggests that to Allah, child marriage isn’t actually wrong in principle.
Darwin didn’t have all the answers. His was a search dedicated to progression, over time. He set the tone. The Prophet Muhammad on the otherhand, apparently had all the answers, and they just so happened to be incredibly misogynistic, homophobic, violent answers.
If criticism of Islam can be considered a race issue, that surely, Hakeem’s criticism of Atheism, has racist connotations. Well, yes, it would appear so:
Hakeem’s most impressively funny point:
“Neo-Atheism is the result of Western man’s white supremacist ideology.”
– Bare in mind, no one else, other than Hakeem, has mentioned race at all up until this point, he is the one obsessed with pointing out just how shitty he considers white, Western people to be. (Islamist superiority complex, as I call it).
He then goes on to contradict himself, by suggesting that it isn’t only new Atheists that are “the result of Western man’s white supremacist ideology”, but also, the free-thinkers of the Enlightenment:
“The European “Age of Reason” predictably coincided with pseudo-scientific racism, which classified blacks as being less than human, unworthy scum.”
– So, Atheism in general, is written off, as white supremacist by its very nature. I cannot even begin to tell you how insulting this is. How, Hakeem thinks Atheists are inherently white supremacists. This is a horrid line of reasoning, for which he offers no evidence. Secularism, and Democracy are not inherently racist ideologies.
He is of course, quite right, that the 18th/19th Enlightenment built on already established racist attitudes. But it also eventually began to crush them, as you would expect, from a method based on reason. The Enlightenment is named as it is, because it inspired rational thought based on available evidence, challenging religious dogma. It promoted progress, – sometimes it got it wrong – it eventually lead to the abolition of slavery (though, the Ottoman Empire continued to use slaves, until around 1890, 25 years after it was abolished in the US). It eventually lead to universal suffrage. It eventually lead to the decriminalisation of Homosexuality. Try being gay in Saudi Arabia. We musn’t forget that the Enlightenment inherited racism and prejudice from religious societies of old. Christians had long been insisting that there was a World Wide Jewish conspiracy to kill Christian children. Religion is divisive by its very nature.
Let us also not forget, that racism is most certainly not confined to the West (which Hakeem seems to be suggesting), and certainly not a completely new phenomena, created and perpetuated by the Colonial Western powers. Islam is no better. Al-Tabari, a very important Islamic historian and Qur’an commentator, writing in the 9th century, said:
“Arabs are the most noble people in lineage, the most prominent, and the best in deeds.”
– It’d take a brave Islamist to suggest Al-Tabari’s blatant racism and Arab supremacy, is the result of ‘white’ Western philosophy. It would take just as brave a man to suggest this superiority complex, isn’t still prevalent among those wishing for a Pan-Arab Caliphate.
If we are to claim that philosophical traditions are the result of ‘white supremacy’ we must also point out, that Islam, was based on Quraish supremacy, and so will naturally reflect the prejudices of the Quraish. Sahih Bukhari 9:89:329:
“Narrated Jabir bin Samura: I heard the Prophet saying, “There will be twelve Muslim rulers (who will rule all the Islamic world).” He then said a sentence which I did not hear. My father said, “All of them (those rulers) will be from Quraish.”
In fact, it appears that the Prophet was hard at work forging racism, long before the Colonial powers took up the mantle. Sahih Bukhari 9:89:256:
Narrated Anas bin Malik: Allah’s Apostle said, “You should listen to and obey, your ruler even if he was an Ethiopian (black) slave whose head looks like a raisin.”
That racist tradition, was carried on. Renowned Islamic scholar Ibn Qutaybah said that Africans:
“…are ugly and misshapen, because they live in a hot country.”
The great Islamic scientist, Nasir al-Din al-Tusi (also influenced by the prejudices of his time, much like Darwin) said:
“Many have seen that the ape is more capable of being trained than the Negro, and more intelligent.”
– Racism is far more prolific within the writings of certain revered Muslims, than any modern ‘neo’-Atheist.
Hakeem’s refusal to acknowledge horrendous racism in Arab nations, shows his intent to promote typically Islamist anti-Western hypocritical “principles”. Egyptian writer and journalist Mona Eltahawy noted that racism was responsible for police brutality in Egypt that led to the crackdown on Sudanese refugees. Eltahawy noted:
“The racism I saw on the Cairo Metro has an echo in the Arab world at large, where the suffering in Darfur goes ignored because its victims are black and because those who are creating the misery in Darfur are not Americans or Israelis and we only pay attention when America and Israel behave badly.”
– Lebanese singer Haifa Wehbe, wrote a song in which she refers to Nubian people in Egypt as “monkeys”. This is the result of pan-Arab nationalism, the notion that Muslim Arabs, are superior. Walid Phares, a Professor of Middle Eastern Affairs, wrote that Arabism and its desire to degrade indigenous non-Arabs, was an exercise in politico-cultural ethnic cleansing. Arabism – another word for Islamist imperialism – is racism.
The Enlightenment promoted the concept of free thought, and social progression through reason, this gives room for prejudices to eventually be overcome, for improvement; a generation builds on the advancement of the previous generation, of course it struggles at times, and of course it doesn’t get it right all of the time. But it places its faith in people – regardless of skin colour, gender, or sexuality. We are seeing this today, with gay marriage becoming more and more accepted. This is an Enlightenment achievement, whilst the Catholic Church, and Islamists continue to humiliate gay people. Islamism, promotes static dogma. It promotes 7th Century ‘values’ that cannot update, nor progress. That is the difference. Of course, Hakeem will find some ridiculous way to blame the West for this, being the Islamist supremacist that he is.
Here, Hakeem gives us the true reason, that he dislikes all things that aren’t Islamic:
“They also seek domain over God; hence, they have adopted neo-atheism. What better way to rule God than to deny God’s very existence?”
– To summarise, Atheism threatens the power structures – like Patriarchy – that Hakeem holds so dear. He wishes to control people, with dogma. With threats of hell. With barbaric punishment that has no rational basis. He wishes people to be slaves to his faith. And so, as pointed out at the top of this article, he is willing to argue in the most ludicrous of terms, just to defend that illegitimate power structure that benefits him so much. He is obsessed with controlling others. He doesn’t wish you to think for yourself. His whole miserable article can be summed up with that. And so, it isn’t just criticism of the Prophet he now has a problem with, it’s Atheism itself. He categorises those who simply dismiss the idea of a God based on a lack of evidence, as white supremacists. The desperation of those seeking to uphold archaic power structures, is, I’m sure you’ll agree, hysterical.
And after slowly losing all mental capacities, Hakeem treats us to the most hypocritical of all of his points:
“In the next article, I will explain why secular egalitarian ideologies such as socialism, anarchism, and secular humanism lack a moral foundation.”
– Great! More reasons why anyone who isn’t Muslim, is inherently terrible. Philosophies he considers to be “white” (his words, not mine), are lacking a moral basis? By his own logic, we must conclude that Hakeem believes white people, do not have a moral basis. The idea of religion providing the only source for which morality is anchored, is an old one. It is an argument that was destroyed about 130 years ago by Kropotkin, and has been repeatedly destroyed over and over, yet seems to still be used by (admittedly, only a few now) religious apologists who have seemingly never read anything other than literature that backs up their own point.
The suggestion of racism, to describe anyone who has a criticism of Islam, must stop. It is killing important discourse before it is allowed to begin. Islam is an idea, a concept. Nothing more. All ideas and concepts must be open to criticism, satire, and ridicule. This is how humanity progresses. I dislike the Prophet Muhammad. I find him to be a violent, sexual predator. I find him to be dangerous, I find his words and his deeds to be disastrous. I find him to be a fraud and a thug. This would be the case, whether he be white, black, Asian, straight, gay, male, female, tall, short and any other biological trait. If we are to suggest that criticism of Muhammad, is race based, then try to point specifically to the racist remarks of those doing the criticism.
By being so broad in your suggestion that criticism of Islam or the Prophet is inherently racist, you simply seem overly defensive of your ideology, that you will play any taboo card, in order to try to discredit the argument in lieu of actually discrediting the argument. If we are to seriously suggest that criticism of the Prophet is inherently racist, then we must suggest that Islam itself has a race element, an ideology based on race (from the words of the Prophet, and famous racist scholars of Islam, this isn’t far fetched)? Exclusive, to it’s own definition of ‘race’. If we note that Islam has no element based on race, then we must conclude that criticism of Islam and its doctrines, are also not based on race. The Qur’an calls us ‘unbelievers’ (whilst threatening us with hell), some Muslims call us ‘Kuffar’, Hakeem calls us ‘neo-Atheists’. Either way, Hakeem, and others like him – those without rational arguments – are far more guilty of the discrimination and derogatory dogma that they claim to abhor, than they’d ever care to admit.