Tuesday, 17 December 2013

The Rationaliser - A Trouble Maker

Although the term "Trouble Maker", recently attributed to me by Hamza Tzortzis, was not meant as a compliment I cannot help but take it was one.  I certainly do take pride in causing trouble against an organisation that has members who promote sex with nine year old brides and beating one's wife.  If these are the genuine held views of these people then they certainly should be exposed, on the other hand if this is no more than a misunderstanding or those people's views have changed then it is vital that this prominently stated so as many people as possible are aware of the truth of the situation.

Here is a transcription of the post Hamza addressed to me on Twitter on December 17th 2013.

He claims that his recent behaviour is to get iERA to retract statements that it has made. 
However, he is deliberately ignoring the facts. Here is a breakdown: 
On Domestic Violence - Abdur Raheem Green made some statement, that have been recently taken out of context, BEFORE iERA were formed. Green has also clarified his statements publicly. 
Hamza Andreas Tzortzis who is a researcher and lecturer for iERA officially supports Nour-DV an anti-domestic violence Muslim group. He has even give a talk for them as an official iERA member http://m.youtube.com/watch?v=o1pYFHJqRc4. The official iERA stance is to support groups fighting domestic violence and abuse. 
On Under Age Marriage - iERA have made their position clear publicly on this issue. See here http://www.iera.org.uk/press_9oct2013.html. 
Also Hamza Andreas Tzortis has been deliberately misunderstood concerning his views. He has publicly condemned all forms of child and underage marriage. See here for example https://mobile.twitter.com/HATzortzis/status/409676801360019456 and https://mobile.twitter.com/HATzortzis/status/387505707387736064, where he said: "@TheRationaliser I'm against ALL child marriage..." This includes ALL 9 year olds, and he publicly condemned child marriage practices that happen in Yemen.

In light of the above. The Rationaliser must be responsible in the way he talks about others, or he will never be take [sic] seriously by the entire community.
My accusations against iERA and/or its board members are as follows

  1. At an official iERA event in Australia Hamza Tzortzis condoned criteria which, in his own words "All these kind of principles we apply, and it happened that there's an outlier in the statistics that a nine year old [met the requirements for having sex]". See video footage here (at 1min 37s).
  2. Abduraheem Green, now an iERA director, condoned men being able to "apply some type of physical force. This is a type of very light beating" on their wives. See video footage here (at 5m 33s).
  3. During the 2011 Somalian famine iERA director Yusuf Chambers described saving Somalian's lives as saving nothing more than "just sticky clay" and encouraged viewers instead to donate money to iERA so that they can proselytise Islam to people in London. See video footage here (at 1 min 17s).

The explanations coming from iERA (Hamza Tzortzis to be more precise) most often involve the word "nuance".  Indeed it is these nuances I would like to explicitly bring out so that they may be made completely unambiguous.

In the case of Yusuf Chambers I have not yet seen a statement clarifying his position except that he was taken out of context, which he was not.  I will be most happy to see an official statement from iERA clearly stating that people with low income who cannot afford to save the lives of people during a famine and also fund iERA's proselytising aims should feed the starving.

In the case of Abduraheem Green it is said that his statement was taken out of context.  The video to which I link is 6 minutes and 54 seconds in duration and completely unedited, I find it difficult to see how his statements were taken out of context.  He says that a man has a God given right to give his wife a "very light beating|".  This is based on a verse in the Quran, Sura 4 verse 34, which is what Mr Green was clarifying in his talk.

In relation to Mr Green's statements, Hamza Tzortzis says that iERA support organisations that fight against domestic violence, and for this I sincerely congratulate them.  In error I said that iERA condone beating one's wife (my apologies), what I meant was that a man who is now a director iERA has condoned beating one's wife, and has explained the correct steps to follow in order to do it correctly.  I personally consider someone applying a beating to their spouse, no matter how "very light", to be spousal abuse.  However, not everyone will necessarily agree with me in thinking the type of beating condoned by Mr Green to be domestic abuse.  For example, at 1m 57s Mr Green says

What is the problem, therefore, that Islam has given the head of the household some allowance to use a type of force in order to prevent his family from falling into evil

The "nuance" here is that if you are beating your wife to prevent something worse from happening to her, are you actually abusing your spouse?  To use an example from Zakir Naik (not part of iERA), if you hit your wife to stop her from jumping to her death, is that wrong?  This is why I specifically wrote "how to beat" rather than using the term "domestic abuse".  In the video Mr Green condones the beating of one's wife in the circumstances where it is for her own good or the good of one's family, and on condition that the first two steps in Quran 4.34 have failed to be effective.

Not all Muslims agree with the statements made by Mr Green, in fact I have yet to personally meet one who does.  I have heard arguments that people of the time were too willing to beat their wives so this verse was a poetic way of telling them not to; the idea being that by the time the first two steps have passed the couple will want to be divorced and so there is no need for the third step.  Whether or not this is a valid argument is irrelevant at this point, if Mr Green has since changed his mind and now takes the opinion that the third step explained in the Quran is supposed to be a step that should not be exercised then I commend him.  As the video linked is very prominent I would like to see an equally prominent video with Mr Green stating emphatically that one should not hit their spouse regardless of their disagreement.  As a means to ensure this change of mind is not missed I will be more than happy to provide a link to this video whenever I see the old video mentioned, and would also be willing to publish it on my own youtube channel so that I can ensure as many people as possible see it.

In the case of Hamza Tzorzis, each time any attempt at a clarification is made it seems that some new nuance appears.  Hamza initially said that Islamic law uses a criteria for determining whether or not it is permissible to have sex with one's wife, a criteria in which the age of the bride is irrelevant.  The criteria was:

  1. Is she physically fit.
  2. Is she emotionally ready.
  3. Is she mentally ready.
  4. Is it socially acceptable.
Hamza used this criteria to explain why he thought it was acceptable for Muhammad aged fifty three to have sex with Aisha aged nine.  Whether or not Aisha was nine at the time is not something all Muslims agree on and not something I have sufficiently researched in order to form a confident opinion on, nor is it relevant to the issue at hand as I don't think that we should retrofit twenty first century UK morality onto a seventh century society in Arabia.  The issue at hand is whether or not it should now be permissible for someone to have sex with their nine year old bride.

When I pressed Hamza on this he stated that he is opposed to child marriages.  Again I deliberately used the term "9 year old bride" in order to avoid socially subjective terms such as "child" or "woman".  If according to your views a nine year old is an adult as soon as she meets the above criteria then saying you condemn child marriages is a nuance which needs to be made clear, otherwise it would be perfectly valid to hold the view that sex with a nine year old child is wrong, but sex with a nine year old woman is legitimate.

In addition to this Hamza has said that he is opposed to under-age sex.  Again here there is a nuance which needs to be made explicit.  I have not accused Hamza of promoting the idea that people in the UK should be having sex with females under the legal of of consent (sixteen), I have accused him of condoning sex with a nine year old female to whom one is married.  The overriding legal jurisdiction of one's residence is not the important factor here.  The important thing is that Hamza believes Islamic law to be the most superior, so does he think that in country operating within legitimate Islamic law it should it ever be legal for a nine year old female to be married and to have sex?

During his debate in Australia, Hamza explicitly condemned the case of a girl named "Rawan" who was allegedly married in Yemen at the age of eight to a forty year old man and died as a consequence of damaged caused during the sexual consummation of her marriage (story here).  Hamza has since repeated his condemnation of the marriage practices of Yemen.  However, during the debate Hamza stated that the marriage was un-Islamic because harm was caused to the bride and so she was clearly still a child, so this is not the kind of case I am asking Hamza to clarify his position on.

In his above statement Hamza says that his opposition to child marriages "includes ALL 9 year olds", which is certainly a big step towards clarity on the subject.  Of course the above nuances (caveats) must also be addressed before this statement can be taken to absolutely mean what it seems to mean, and hopefully does mean.

Having shared a scientific paper about premature infant care which revealed that using twenty first century medical equipment/techniques in a first world country (USA) which showed that a ten year old female is one and a half times more likely to experience a miscarriage than a fifteen year old, and twice as likely as a twenty year old (see paper here), Hamza agreed with the statistics and their consequences.

I must make clear that if Muhammad did marry Aisha at the age of nine and consummate that marriage with her, and did so at the instruction of a supremely powerful entity which gets to decide who experiences miscarriages and who does not then this research is irrelevant to that individual case, and so that is not my point of mentioning this research.  My reason for mentioning it is that it provides objective evidence to support the argument that sex with nine year old females is detrimental even with twenty first century medical technology.

Will Hamza join me and unequivocally condemn sex with any nine year old female under any system of legal jurisprudence, whether present, future, or "ideal"?

Monday, 2 December 2013

The peacock problem - part 2

So now I am responding to this post which was a "hasty response" to my explanation of why I think Jamie needs to learn from his mistakes.

In response to @therationaliser who criticises my blog piece (here) with the intended view of saying it was my fault for creating a sexual atmosphere or perhaps setting a precedent for the wolf whistling of women.
I did not say it was the fault of Jamie, or did I imply it.  What I said was that he made mistakes that he should learn from instead of only writing about how out of order everyone else was.

Why didn’t I stop them at this point? I wasn’t on stage, this was an introductory voiceover that lasts a few minutes. And besides, I didn’t realise it would be a recurring problem- they quieted down and the show went on and when better to bring up the issue of sexist attitudes then went talking about Marie Curie.
Then perhaps a talk to them at the point you came onto the stage before you continued with the talk?  Still at this point I am not too concerned with the course of actions...

Additionally I find the implication that the sexual objectification of Nigella Lawson should be in some way expected or understood disgraceful. It was not a provocative picture, just a photo of a TV chef.
Again I made no such implication.  I merely said that this was how the boys chose to respond to the photo.  I clearly said in my post "This is not a justification for their behaviour", and also "how wrong the boys' behaviour was (and it was)".  I did not say it was excusable or to be expected, I was merely outlining how the event started off and at which point the issue should have been addressed.

On to the Bond section.
Bond is an iconic figure, when talking about the human obsession with gold I thought of Goldfinger. The film is rated a PG. Perhaps an image of king Midas would have been appropriate though something tells me that he would provide a less startling, recognisable figure as the dead and gilded figure of Jill which was on screen for a matter of seconds.
Recognisable by whom?  15 year old school children, or by those of us who grew up in the 60's?  I recognised the photo immediately as the image I saw as a child and thought "they only did that to show her in her knickers", but how many of those school children do you think have watched retro James Bond films?  However, I expect about 99% of them know the story of King Midas.  In fact only last week my 7 year old girl came home and showed me a story she wrote about a man who made everything he touches turn to chocolate, and then told me it was a funny version of the King Midas story she had just learned at school.

I’d like to take this opportunity to specifically point out that you have never seen me speak, you don’t know what images were used 
No I don't.  Was it this one, or this one, or maybe it was this one?  What do you think the director wanted you to see in this scene, gold or an almost naked woman?  Could it be possible that because as a child you were shown this naked woman, for no real reason other than sexual objectification, that you didn't even realise that the infamous scene you were about to show people was not only a sexual objectification of a woman, but in fact a woman stripped naked, murdered, and then fosilised with gold in order to actually turn her into nothing more than a monetarily valuable object?

and I find your whole piece not only insulting of me and what I do but disgraceful in the way you blame the women (or myself for having them there) as inviting this sort of action.
I wasn't insulting you.  I was criticising you in the hope that you would take it on board, learn from your mistakes, and move on to give better presentations.  Unfortunately if I disagree with how someone deals with inappropriate behaviour towards women people seem to automatically assume that it means I condone the behaviour.  This is not the case, and I made that clear in my post.

Yes, I made a quip about the wolf whistle of Jill. By now the retribution was guaranteed. That is why I said “it is interesting that you whistled again, I think this is something we’ll come back to later” or words to that effect, why not bring it up when it would make the most impact?
And here is my biggest point of criticism.  In my post I hypothesised that the students mistakenly thought you were joking.  It didn't even occur to me that at this point you actually were joking with them.  You don't bring it up later, you address it there and then so that the reprimand can be mentally associated with the act itself in order to cause a disincentive to repeat the act, and you should certainly never turn it into a joke.

Additionally if you quote me in your writing then quote me. Don’t paraphrase and put in quotation marks.
I made it clear that it was a paraphrase, I said "the speaker effectively went on to say".  I think this is a 100% clear indication that I was paraphrasing, especially as I then give three different examples, each becoming more explicit in what could be inferred from your actions.  If you would like me to change the quotes to [square brackets] or something then I will be happy to, but please don't claim I was misrepresenting you.  I was clearly hypothesising the inferences that could easily be made from your words and actions.

“I often find myself using her as an example of why women are not deficient in intelligence compared to men” I cannot tell you how insulting I find this phrase. Good grief listen to yourself. Disgraceful phrasing. It seems you work on the basis that your children have the assumption that women are intellectually deficient and need corrective examples.
Now this is a perfect example of quote mining.  My exact words were

Marie Curie.  I have told my children about her many times, and I often find myself using her as an example of why women are not deficient in intelligence compared to men (http://quranx.com/2.282?hl=two+women). 
You omitted the ", and" to change the meaning of what I said.  "I have told my children about her many times, AND I often find myself using her as an example" - which I then follow with a link providing the exact context in which I use her as an example.  Please be less hasty in future.

Now you have written your blog condemning me. I have to ask- do you think I did a disservice to women? Do you honestly think that people left the auditorium thinking wolf whistling was fine? I am a good speaker, I have delivered hundreds of science talks the organisers were please, the school teachers were pleased and the levels of presumption you reach in your blog about me and my work are staggering.
And here is the problem I am trying to get you to see.  You seem to be trying to look for fault everywhere but yourself.  You ignored the sexualisation of Nigella, not such a massive mistake, but then you showed school children a photo of a murdered naked woman...to explain the value of gold?  How do you think the girls in the audience felt when that photograph appeared on the screen?  I'd be happy to bet money that there were quite a few girls in that audience who cringed as soon as the photo appeared, and well before the unaddressed sole wolf-whistle escalated into a cacophony.  I'd also bet money that at the point the wolf whistles were occurring there were plenty of girls in that audience who felt further insult when you decided to make a joke about it.  Can you not see what you have written that you did?

If I want to use Nigella Lawson in a talk I will. I’m not going to put a man up there for fear that some people might find her attractive and grunt their masculinity at them. If I talk about obsession for gold then yes I could use old bearded Midas but you make it sound like I showed the audience pornography rather than a still from a PG film.
I don't care that it wasn't pornography, nor do I care what certification it was given by the film board back in 1964.  I find it a very poor choice for the objectification reasons I outlined above.

After seeing my show I’ve been invited to present this show Qutar after a delegation from there saw it- they didn’t seem to have issues with the content so I’m very sorry that my presentation didn’t  meet your seemingly harsher standard.
Let go of the emotion, read the words, learn from the experience, improve.

Women should not be disrespected. What the boys were doing was a vocal demonstration of degradation and I called them on it. I’m sorry you take issue with the way I did it but I am pleased with what I did. The way I did it made an impact and frankly I’m pleased the way I handled it.
You think you handled it well?  Let's see

  1. Nigella is objectified: Nothing said.
  2. A stripped naked murder victim is objectified: You made a joke about it.
  3. Marie Curie was objectified. You made a big fuss.
What is the message here?  I will certainly give you the benefit of the doubt and assume that you reprimanded them for all of their actions rather than turning it into a long rant about why Marie Curie doesn't deserve it because she had a difficult life and was ultra clever (which is how your blog came across).

If you think I set out to create this atmosphere you are wrong. If you think I didn’t admonish the boys you are wrong. If you plan to review any of my shows in future- please attend first.
I didn't say that you did.  I tried to put across what I think you did wrong and why.  I think you handled it poorly and simply need to learn from those mistakes.  Stop trying to convince people you handled it really well and try looking at how you could have handled it better.  Don't trivialise sexism by joking that it's wrong if she's dead, and don't show mostly naked objectified murder victims as an example of how people like gold from a scene of a film that was made over 30 years before they were born.

You critisise me for not speaking sooner. What if the speaker felt so intimidated by the boys they couldn't speak up? What if they had done it directly to a female presenter- would it be there fault? Their responsibility to stop it?
Personally I think that anyone who cannot verbally reprimand 15 year olds for bad behaviour should not be standing in front of them in the first place.  For the rare occasions where this requirement is waived due to the speciality of the speaker (e.g. a survivor of sexual violence) I would expect them to have the sense to mention their frailty to the staff before hand and agree on some kind of indication which would be given to request a teacher to step in and take control.  If this doesn't happen due to inexperience then I would expect it to occur to someone as the experience is gained over time.  Although I suspect the description you gave is nothing like how you are, if it is then please do take my advice regarding a special indication to staff for help.

Fundamentally: No women no matter what they wear, or how they present themselves deserves harrased. EVER. I don't even care that the women weren't there. And if you think I encouraged them then then you really don't know me.
I don't know you and whether Nigella and Heather were there or not is irrelevant.  Please read through this blog post carefully, not in haste.  Try to see what I am trying to tell you.

The Peacock Problem: Response

This is a response to this blog post.

Women are clearly presented as sexual objects in our society.  I've tried to help my son to see through it, and my wife would very much like to do some kind of travelling school lesson for boys on the subject.

Boys of this age are moving into a new social arena.  They are starting to see the sexual side of their existence, trying to make themselves attractive to the opposite gender without making fools of themselves despite not really having a clue what they are doing.  To do this they look around at how society seems to find it appropriate to treat females and they emulate it.

I have no idea why a Nigella Lawson video was chosen to start a talk on science.  I have seen little of Nigella's TV programmes but what little I have seen has made me cringe.  She throws herself at the camera as if desperate to be found sexually attractive.  For example, I saw her come on screen wearing a silk nightie "Ooh, you've just caught me coming down for a midnight snack."  "I'm going to be cooking .......but I like to call it slut spaghetti".  Now these scenes may very well be a tiny minority, but for boys with a new interest in sexuality and possibly little/no interest in cookery the only reason they are going to have heard of Nigella is because of scenes like the one I have just mentioned.  This is not a justification for their behaviour, just an opening explanation of possibly why more inappropriate behaviour followed, so bear with me.

Now if the talk had been about inappropriate sexual behaviour towards women then the reaction from the boys shows it would have been a good example video to use.  Perhaps then going on to point out how the boys acted inappropriately, why they did it, and then give them some deep insights as to why it is wrong etc.  It seems at this point no condemnation came from Jamie (according to the short account he wrote at least) so presumably some of the boys sat and mimicked what they thought the more experienced/popular boys were doing and saw this to be acceptable by fact that it was being tolerated by an adult.  At this point the talk should have stopped and the boys spoken to harshly, and that was the first mistake.

For the boys, perhaps at this point there was some uncertainty.  Was Nigella chosen for the talk because the speaker thought there was a chance she had some "fans" in the audience, did he want to show her so that they would look at her in that way?  The lack of condemnation from the speaker at this point could be seen to suggest he did, but they were probably not certain and just glad that their water-testing didn't get them into trouble.

The next part of the account was of the woman in Gold Finger being killed and sprayed with gold.  Is there anyone who honestly thinks that the James Bond films of that era were NOT all about the sexualization of women?  Every opportunity they had there would be a scantily dressed woman who wanted Bond for nothing more than sex.  Even in this murder scene the woman was killed in the most extravagantly ridiculous way just so that the film makers could have the opportunity to present a woman wearing nothing but a pair of knickers.

So, after seeing the boys react inappropriately and not stopping the talk and reprimanding them for their behaviour, the speaker went on to show a photo of a woman almost completely naked, despite the photo really having nothing to do with science or the value of gold.  How does a woman lying naked show how precious gold is?  King Midas would have been a much better example...why atoms cannot rearrange into gold without vast amounts of heat and energy, and how turning everything into gold paradoxically devalues gold.

After this second episode of wolf-whistling surely the talk should have stopped for a serious talk?  According to the account, it seems it didn't.  "Do you realise she is dead?"  How about a proper lecture about how sexual objectification is inappropriate?  How about not showing a completely irrelevant image that was originally only shot for the sole purpose of sexually objectifying women?  And the criticism about the woman being dead too, not only (according to the short account) was there an absence of of scolding but the speaker effectively went on to to say

"You shouldn't act like that.......because she's dead" - Quite a silly thing to say considering everyone in the room knows for a fact she was an actress pretending to be dead. They weren't *really* looking at a woman who was dead, so saying such a silly thing could easily come across as a joke...

"You shouldn't treat women like that......once they are dead" or "You shouldn't act like that......nah, just kidding"

And then on to what I think demonstrates the point very well.  Marie Curie.  I have told my children about her many times, and I often find myself using her as an example of why women are not deficient in intelligence compared to men (http://quranx.com/2.282?hl=two+women).  Why did these boys wolf whistle at a vintage head-shot black & white photo that was clearly not trying to present the subject as sexual?

By now I think it is possible that these boys were under the impression that the speaker is being a bit laddish and giving an example of how to present women.  I know that if this had been a public talk that I had been in I'd have objected and left. By the time the speaker started to show a picture of an almost completely naked woman lying on a bed I'd have strongly suspected he was intent on showing additional inappropriate material and that it was only going to get more explicit.

The wolf whistles here were probably the boys showing the presenter they appreciated what they thought was a joke.  The classic pattern of a joke being to lead the audience one way and then throw something completely unexpected at them.  First Nigella (not sure where presenter is going), then an almost completely naked woman (okay, confident where the presenter is going, especially with his joke about her being dead), and then suddenly.....a vintage black and white photo of the side of a woman's head.  haha, you got us, we were expecting NUTS magazine or something.

Quite frankly I am very surprised that Jamie felt it was appropriate to show a photo of an almost completely naked woman in a presentation about anything other than (perhaps) a talk about anti-objectification.  What these boys did was wrong, but I think what Jamie did was too, the boys possibly got the wrong impression from a presentation that was easy to take the wrong impression from.  Jamie needs to learn from this experience.

Instead of just highlighting how wrong the boys' behaviour was (and it was), and highlighting how society has made it seem acceptable for them to sexual objectify women (which unfortunately it has), perhaps Jamie should also see that his poor choice of irrelevant material and lack of well timed condemnation was also part of the problem.  In fact I'd say that, to all of the girls sitting in that room who heard the wolf-whistling, the lack of strong condemnation from the man at the front of the room was the worst mistake of the event.  Which was possibly reflected in their applause when the behaviour was eventually strongly condemned.  But was that still sufficient?

  • Nigella: No condemnation. 
  • Bond girl: Condemnation for objectifying a dead woman, that may or may not be seen to be a joke.
  • Marie Curie: Very strong condemnation.

And what is the message here?  You shouldn't treat women this way....if they are dead OR ultra-clever?  Obviously not, but the point at which the unacceptable behaviour is seen to cross the line is a very important part of correcting unacceptable behaviour.

Saturday, 23 November 2013

Could Muhammad have split the moon in two?


You may know that I once met some Muslim proselytisers and have since stayed in touch with one of them.  We occasionally chat via email and I really enjoy or correspondences.  He doesn't try to convince me Islam is true, he tries to understand why I do not think that it is.  I greatly appreciate and enjoy his approach.

He recently wrote and asked what I thought of the miracle claim that Muhammad performed a miracle and split the Moon into two pieces.  I have just written a fairly comprehensive reply on the subject that I thought I'd share. 

First I will give a very brief summary of the chat so far

Me: Is there any evidence for the Moon splitting into two?
Tas: I have heard of an Indian king seeing it, shall I look into it?
Me: That was reported only through Islamic sources so could also just be folklore.  See if you can find non-Islamic accounts of the event.
(No evidence found)
Tas: I have heard there is a crack on the Moon, what is your opinion of that?
Me: The Moon was once geologically active, the cracks you see are fault lines. The same exists on other moons in the solar system, it is perfectly normal to see these cracks on moons.  

Tas: I spoke to (a Muslim proselytiser we all know and love) recently who said that because it was a miracle there might not be any evidence because miracles take place outside of the laws of nature.

And now onto the meat of my argument

No, that's a cop out answer.  Miracles defy normal explanation for their cause, that does not mean that they leave no evidence such as half of the world's population seeing the Moon split in two, unless of course Allah performed two more miracles

1: Stopped half of the world from seeing it happen except for a handful of people in the desert.
2; Stopped the Moon from crumbling into two spheroids (which is what would happen).

If only these few people saw it then it needn't be anything more than a David Blaine trick.  However, there is a much more plausible explanation. There is a verse in the Quran about the Moon "splitting asunder", http://quranx.com/54.1

"The hour has come near, and the Moon has split assunder"

Now take a look at the Arabic word analysis for that verse http://quranx.com/Analysis/54.1#word_3The word is Ishaqqa.  The same word (in different forms) is used throughout the Quran http://quranx.com/Analysis/Root/shin-gaf-gaf (scroll down to the verbs).  Nearly all of these occurrences are used in verbs where a single item is split open or apart, but not all of them.  If you look at http://quranx.com/50.44 

"The Day when the Earth will be rent asunder, from (men) hurrying out: that will be a gathering together"

The same word is used here to mean that two things will be split apart, the Earth and humans (in the grave perhaps?).  This shows that the word can be used to mean two things were separated.

I think that 54.1 about the Moon splitting/separating is a solar eclipse that happened during Muhammad's life.  Take a look on the NASA website here http://eclipse.gsfc.nasa.gov/JSEX/JSEX-AS.html

In section 1 select "Mecca" as the city.
In section 2 click the time period 0601-700
Now scroll down to the year 613.

You will see that on July 23rd there was a solar eclipse in Mecca.  From first transition in front of the Sun to the point it separated from the Sun it lasted almost 2.5 hours with the maximum eclipse happening at 8:12 in the morning.  There is very little doubt at all that Muhammad would have seen this eclipse, or at the very least heard of it.

Now take into account that 54.1 says "The Hour drew near".  I am sure you know that "The Hour" means the moment of resurrection and judgement, right? (If not then let me know and I will provide verses).  This suggests that in some way the Moon separating was considered a sign of The Hour.  Indeed, if you look at Sura 75 of the Quran the first 9 verses describe what will happen when The Hour comes

  1. I do call to witness the Resurrection Day

  1. This is about the day of resurrection and judgement
  2. ...
  3. ...
  4. ...
  5. ...
  6. He questions: "When is the Day of Resurrection?"
    How will we know when it is the day of resurrection for judgement?
  7. When the sight is dazed
    Something visual is going to happen
  8. And the Moon is buried in darkness
    Because the Moon is in front of the Sun or is (at least visually) "swallowed" by the Sun http://quranx.com/Analysis/Root/kha-sin-fa
  9. And the sun and moon are joined together
    And the Sun and Moon come together during an eclipse

These verses are describing an impressive visual phenomenon where the Sun + Moon come together and the Moon becomes dark.  Exactly what happens when a solar eclipse occurs.  Sura 54, in my opinion, is saying the following

  1. The Hour (of Judgment) is nigh, and the moon is cleft asunder.
    A sign of The Hour of judgement was shown to the people by means of a solar eclipse, and now the Moon has separated from the Sun.
  2. But if they see a Sign, they turn away, and say, "This is (but) transient magic."
    When Muhammad said this was a sign of The Hour the people said he was just tricking them.  
  3. They reject (the warning) and follow their (own) lusts but every matter has its appointed time.
    They followed their own lusts, yet every matter of theirs will be settled at The Hour.
  4. There have already come to them Recitals wherein there is (enough) to check (them),
    Recitals (verses of the Quran) have come to them
  5. Mature wisdom;- but (the preaching of) Warners profits them not.
    These recitals are mature wisdom, but they do not listen to them
  6. Therefore, (O Prophet,) turn away from them. The Day that the Caller will call (them) to a terrible affair
    So, Muhammad, turn away from them when they are called to a painful thing (punishment after day of judgement)
  7. They will come forth,- their eyes humbled - from (their) graves
    With downcast eyes they will come from their graves (the raised dead on the day of judgement)
  8. Hastening, with eyes transfixed, towards the Caller!- "Hard is this Day!", the Unbelievers will say.
    Hastening towards the caller the unbelievers will say "This is a hard day" (i.e....what a bad bad day this is going to be)

The Moon darkening, the Sun and moon coming together then splitting apart/separating, eclipses being a sign of the day of judgement, the dead arising to be judged etc.  If you read 54.1 in the context of its following verses plus other verses in the Quran it is undoubtedly talking about how the people saw a solar eclipse and were told that this is one of the signs to look out for that judgement day is upon them.  The Hour will come during a solar eclipse!

What has happened is that people have asked "What does 54:1 (The moon has split apart/separated) mean?".  This is obviously an incorrect question, it should be "what do these VERSES mean?" in order make them be read in context.  People ask the same question today as has been asked in the past.  People didn't know they were linked to an actual event where the Moon eclipsed the Sun, and over time folklore developed and became more and more exaggerated until it eventually became a claim that Muhammad split the Moon in two.  Even though not there is not a single historical mention of such a massive event from anyone, anywhere in the world (except though Islamic sources which are part of the same folklore phenomenon).

And finally what does the Quran itself say about Muhammad performing miracles?

[And the Unbelievers say: "Why is not a sign sent down to him from his Lord?" But thou art truly a warner, and to every people a guide.]
13.7 and 29.50 both describe the unbelievers asking Muhammad for a miracle, and the Quran says Muhammad does not show miracles because he is only a "warner".

Finally, take a look at the order of revelation of the chapters of the Quran here http://www.missionislam.com/quran/revealationorder.htm or here http://tanzil.net/wiki/Revelation_Order

  • Moon splitting: Sura 54 (al qamar) was 37th
  • No miracles: Sura 13 (ar rad) was 96th
  • No miracles: Sura 29  (al ankabut) was 85th

Forget that the people didn't think this event in 54.1 was a miracle, think of the god and Quran you believe in.  These two verses about Muhammad not performing miracles, because is is only a warner, came after the chapter of the Moon separating.  So if the Moon was split in two as a miracle then the Quran would be wrong when it claims that there will be no miracles from Muhammad as proof.

Friday, 22 November 2013

Unanswered questions

It seems there are some questions that are too difficult for certain people to answer.

The first one is with regards to Hamza Tzortzis and his views on sex with 9 year old brides.  Having sat in front of an audience and told them that under the right circumstances it is okay for an adult male to have sex with his 9 year old bride he now seems very coy about discussing the issue.  The only brief correspondence we had on this subject involved Hamza emailing me privately to tell me he has the right to take down unauthorised copies of the footage, and suggesting I “do the right thing” and take the video down “before things get messy on youtube”. Of course in public he claimed he'd do no such thing.  He did, at one point on Twitter, say that the video clip does not represent his views on the matter and that he was “currently writing a paper” to clarify, since then all has gone quiet and no such paper has appeared.

The second one is with regards to Adam Deen.  He uses the following (borrowed) arguments against the problem of evil which he is satisfied with peddling:
  • Allowing humans to do evil things is a necessary part of giving us free will to choose not to do evil things.
  • Without God there is no such things as objective good and evil, nor morality and immorality, so there.
  • Humans suffer of natural ailments as a test.
*Note: Those arguments were presented far too eloquently and were thus paraphrased.

However if you remove humans from the equation in order to remove the “it’s a test” claim, and instead of using words such as “immoral” or “evil” we simply point out that there is a horrendous amount of animal suffering in the world caused by other animals, suddenly Mr Deen likes to drop the subject.

This animal suffering includes male otters holding the heads of baby seals under water while they force them to ensure sexual acts, a practise which often leads to the seal pups drowning; Kimono dragons injecting their prey with a slow acting poison which takes days for the animal to die, and giving the Kimonos the opportunity to start dinner before their victim is actually dead; and certain types of wasps which inject caterpillars with their eggs which then eat their way out of the caterpillar over time; traumatic conception; and countless other examples of animal suffering that could easily be avoided by an all-powerful entity or, in many cases (such as the slow death of Kimono dragons’ prey), a mere human with a gun.

And so once establishing that compensating these poor animals after they are dead is not a form of mercy we ended up at a simple question
  1. If animals do suffer and Allah is all-powerful and the most merciful, then why does Allah allow animals to suffer due to the actions of other animals when simple alternatives are possible (e.g. fast acting venom).
  2. If animals do not suffer, then why should we keep the RSPCA (Royal society of prevention of cruelty to animals) or various other charities that are set up to heal stray animals injured in accidents or by other animals?
I’d be happy to know the answer to this question, but it seems that the only thing Mr Deen does competently is to avoid answering difficult questions.

So if ever you are in a public forum with either of these religious apologists and have the opportunity to ask a question you may want to consider using one they dislike answering.

Hamza Tzortzis: How does one objectively determine if a 9 year old girl is “physically capable” of receiving an adult sized penis without the test damaging or traumatising her?

Adam Deen: If Allah is the most merciful then why is there so much unnecessary animal to animal suffering in the world, and if there is no such thing as animal suffering then why did you say we should keep the RSPCA?

Yeah, good luck with getting an answer to one of those...

*Update: I've collected all of Adam's responses to me regarding this subject.  I've read through them and do not see an answer to my question.  I've asked him to give me the number of the response he feels answers my question but so far no response.  Adam's responses are here.

Saturday, 28 September 2013

Islam, and sex with 9 year old brides

In this post I intend to provide some references as to why Muslims, such as Hamza Tzortzis, condone sexual intercourse with females as young as 9 years old.  Before providing those references I would like to point out a few things.

  1. As far as I am aware, Muslims must operate within the laws of their hosting country as long as they do not force them to break Islamic laws.  This would mean that no Imam in the UK should perform an Islamic marriage with anyone under the age of sixteen.
  2. To have sex with a female she must either be one's wife, or a prisoner of war.
  3. To be bound to condone marriage at such a young age the believer must adhere to the Sunnah of Muhammad.  Sunnah is a prescribed normative life based on the actions of Muhammad who, according to the Quran, was the perfect example of a Muslim.  This Sunnah is derived from hadiths, which are not part of the Quran but a secondary source of information written some time after Muhammad's death from orally transmitted history.
  4. Some Muslims follow the Quran only so hadiths do not apply to them.  There is no reason I know of to be forced to condone sex with such young females from the Quran only, despite the Quranic argument I will put forward (details later).
  5. There are different levels of confidence in Hadith collections.  The strongest of these is known as a Sahih (strong) collection, these are what I will use for my references.  A hadith in a Sahih collection is considered even stronger of the account is traced back to one of the companions of Muhammad through a different chain of people (Isnad).  Not all Muslims accept the references I will provide.
  6. Some Muslims who follow Sunnah and accept the provided references as authentic still disagree with marriage at such a young age for various other reasons.
I felt these points were important to make because I wanted to point out that it is a subset of Muslims who condone marriage and sex with females at such a young age, and that "Muslim rape gangs" are (to my knowledge) operating in violation of these religious laws.  More like "a beef eating vegetarian" than the "no true Scotsman" fallacy.  Now that I have hopefully disarmed the EDL/Robert Spencer/Pamella Geller type readers, let us begin.

Evidence from the Quran

Before having sex with a female (wife or slave) a Muslim man must first ensure she is not pregnant.  This is to ensure the paternities of the children are known.  There are various implications of paternity such as how a child should be named, inheritance issues, and slaves who give birth to their master's child cannot be sold and are automatically freed upon the death of their "owner"

Quran 33.49 says that the waiting period (Iddat) for a woman who has not had sex is not applicable.  Quran 2.228 says that the waiting period is 3 menstrual cycles.  Quran 65.4 specifies the waiting period for women who do not have menstrual cycles, these are as follows
  • Females who no longer menstruate: Three calendar months
  • Females who are otherwise not menstruating: Three calendar months
  • Females who are pregnant: Until they give birth
Obviously a female who has never menstruated can still become pregnant if they ovulate, making their egg available for fertilisation, so they too must have a waiting period if remarrying.  Being premenarcheal does not automatically mean a female is young, Amenorrhoea is a condition where females of a reproductive age do not menstruate due to various medical problems.  It is because of this that I personally do not feel it is justifiable to say that Islam forces Muslims to condone sex with pre-menarcheal females let alone 9 year old brides if using only the Quran.  Whether or not Quran-only Islamic states or individual Muslims do condone such actions is not the point of this article.

Evidence from Hadiths

It is the supporting documents of the hadiths which portray these Quran verses in a less favourable light.  Hadiths from Sahih Bukhari[1][2][3] claim that Muhammad married* his wife Aisha when she was 6 and consumated that marriage when she was 9.  Hadiths from Sahih Muslim[4][5][6][7] say that Aisha was 6 or 7 when Muhammad married her and she was 9 when taken to his house as his bride.  The Sunan Abu Dawud[8][9] collection states Aisha was 6 when married and that she had her first period when she was 9, at which point Muhammad had sex with her.  Sunan an-Nasa'i[10][11][12][13][14][15] says that Aisha was 9 years old when Muhammad consummated their marriage. Sunan Ibn Majah[16][17] says that Aisha was 6 when married to Muammad and 9 when that marriage was consummated.

*Note that according to Quran 33.49 the annulment of an unconsummated marriage is immediate, this means that an Islamic unconsummated marriage is akin to an engagement to marry here in the UK, and a consummated marriage is the point at which the marriage becomes the equivalent of a UK marriage.

Evidence from Asbab Al Nuzul by Al-Wahidi

Asbab Al Nuzul is a "collection of circumstances of revelation", it is an attempt to document hadiths related to the events leading up to the revealing of verses.  The account of verse 65.4 states
Ubayy ibn Ka"b said: "O Messenger of Allah, of some women of Medina are saying: there are other women who have not been mentioned!" He asked him: "And who are they?" He said: "Those who are too young [such that they have not started menstruating yet], those who are too old [whose menstruation has stopped] and those who are pregnant"

I find it odd that this lack of information needed to be pointed out to Muhammad, who claimed to be receiving the information from an all-knowing entity.  I find it more odd that the receiver of divine information from this all-knowing entity had to ask "Who are they?", however that is a different subject, possibly one for a future article.  The point is that here the premenarcheal females in question are premenarcheal specifically due to the fact that they are too young.

Exegeses (tafsirs)

Tafsir Al Jalalyn states that those who have not yet menstruated have not done so because they are too young.  Tafsir Ibn Abbas (via Tanwir Al-Miqbas) also states that these females are too young to menstruate (note that the authenticity of Ibn Abbas is questioned).  Finally Sayyid Abul Ala Maududi has quite a lot to say on the subject, I will quote selectively
They may not have menstruated as yet either because of young age, or delayed menstrual discharge as it happens in the case of some women, or because of no discharge at all throughout life which, though rare, may also be the case...making mention of the waiting-period for the girls who have not yet menstruated, clearly proves that it is not only permissible to give away the girl in marriage at this age but it is also permissible for the husband to consummate marriage with her. Now, obviously no Muslim has the right to forbid a thing which the Qur'an has held as permissible.

Maturity does not imply puberty

As with the marriage/engagement example there are cross language/culture differences regarding the word "puberty".  Puberty implies the presence of pubic hair, whereas Islamic puberty does not necessitate this.  For this reason I shall use the term "Islamic maturity" instead.

According to this fatwa a girl becomes a woman (and therefore eligible for sex through marriage or slavery) based on her reaching at least the age of 9 (as per the Muhammad/Aisha example) and in addition must meet at least one the following criteria

  1. When pubic hair grows around her private parts
  2. When she starts to menstruate
  3. When she first emits a fluid from her vagina which is associated with having sex
If none of these signs appear by the age of 15 then she automatically reaches Islamic maturity.  In addition to this the girl must have the mental competence to be required to perform religious practises such as fasting, praying, and wearing a Hijab.


Tuesday, 27 August 2013

QuranX.com feature list

As I have been adding features to QuranX I thought I'd maintain this post to document those features.

Displaying all hadiths related to a specific verse

No description required, it's very simple http://quranx.com/hadiths/54.1

Displaying all tafsirs for a specific verse

Again very simple http://quranx.com/tafsirs/54.1

Showing all translations

When linking to QuranX.com verses it is possible to ensure that all translations are displayed regardless of which translations the user has selected manually.  This ensures that when you cite a verse the translation you cite will be visible

Highlighting text

This is particularly useful when linking to QuranX.com from a blog when you wish to highlight a specific point.  This works in Quran verses, hadiths and tafsir texts.

  1. Single word hl=TheWord
  2. Multiple words hl=WordOne,WordTwo,WordThree
  3. Phrases can be highlighted by separating words like so hl=in+the+name
  4. You can even have multiples of words and phrases mixed
Note that modifiers after the question mark may be combined using the & sign, for example to show allTranslations of verse 1.1 and also highlight the word Allah you can do this http://quranx.com/1.1?hl=Allah&allTranslations=y

Displaying multiple verses

Again useful for linking to QuranX to illustrate a specific point.

  1. Single verse. Chapter 1 Verse 1
  2. Range of verses. Chapter 1 verses 3 to 5
  3. Non sequential verses separated by commas
A combination of single verse and verse ranges can be separated by commas, like so http://quranx.com/1.1,10.1-3,23.1

Searching for phrases

You may search for an exact phrase by encompassing it in quotes.  For example "In the name of Allah".

Searching for partial words

You may use an asterisk * to indicate any number of unknown characters.  For example searching for the word sex will only show exact results, whereas searching for sex* would also include matches for sexual, sexuality, sextuplets etc.

It is possible to use multiple asterisks in a single word, for example m*h*m*d would match both Muhammad and Mohammed.

Searching within a specific context

The search in the header of the site will look through all text on the website.  If you wish to search only the Quran, only tafsirs/hadiths, or a specific tafsir/hadith collection then click the Advanced Search link at the top of the page and select the context you wish to search within.

Search expressions

By default QuranX will search for all words entered, it is possible to use the conditional statements AND and OR by writing them in uppercase.  For example love AND mercy would show only matches with both words, whereas love AND (mercy OR compassion) would show matches where the word love exists but only when accompanied by either the word mercy or compassion.

iERA, Hamza Tzortzis, The Quran Project and those scientists

Having already blogged iERA changes stance on Quran miracle claims I had no intention of writing any more on the subject of Hamza's article rejecting miracle claims in the Quran.  However, this morning I read this blog post by Captain Spinoza and it reminded me of this Tweet.

In July 2012 it was announced that Hamza Tzortzis had joined the team at The Quran Project.  The Quran Project have a Quran which they distribute free of charge using charity donations.  In the back of this Quran there are (you guessed it) scientific miracle claims which are now rejected by Hamza.  Not only this but it also uses quotes from those scientists who in the 80's and 90's were tricked into making sound bite statements which incorrectly implied they thought the Quran was scientifically miraculous, the same scientists that Hamza now acknowledges were misrepresented and who's statements should not be used in proselytising. [See page 724 entitled "Scientific Miracles of the Qur'an" in their online Quran]

In June 2012, three months after being notified of their unintentional mistake, The Quran Project were trying to raise funds for the 5th print of their book and had already raised over £41,000.

A tweet announcing delivery of this 5th print run was posted on August 18th, 2012, five months after being notified of their unintentional mistake, which is obviously plenty of time to revise the print run or at the very least postpone the printing in order not to waste over £40,000 on a book containing a massive section of known fraudulent claims.  As you can see from the screen capture the print run went ahead anyway, and the response of QuranProjectOrg was effectively to stick their fingers in their ears by blocking me.

Hamza was aware of these interviews before he joined The Quran Project team in July 2012.  The Quran Project team also knew about these interviews before they ordered a new print of their fraudulent Quran.  I also phoned them to ensure they had seen the interviews and was told "Yes we know, so what do you want?"  Now nearly a year and a half later The Quran Project still have not updated even the downloadable PDF document on their website.

This all now raises these questions in addition to those asked by Captain Spinoza
  1. Hamza's article is on his personal website. Do iERA also intend to publish a statement on their official website?
  2. Has Hamza resigned from The Quran Project team for spreading untruth, which is explicitly forbidden in the Quran [2.42]?
  3. Will The Quran Project remove statements they now know to be deliberate deceptions from their downloadable PDF and also their next print run?
I suppose the primary question is:
Which is more important, making new Muslims and raising funds or being honest?

Wednesday, 21 August 2013

iERA chances stance on Quran miracles

iERA sent a small delegation of proselytisers to the world atheist convention in Dublin 2011.  During this event claims were made for information in the Quran which pre-dated modern scientific discovery, including mountains stablising the Earth's crust via isostasy and microscopic level knowledge of the embryonic stages of human development.

Since then there has been a change in position.  In this article Hamza (chief researcher for iERA) states that he has since changed his position completely and no longer holds this view.  The persistent counter arguments from atheists to his claims worked their way into his head until he realised he could finally no longer hold that position, he has changed his mind and now emphatically states there are no scientific miracles in the Quran.

Realising you are wrong is the best way of being right, and it's great to see Hamza has been able to take that step.  Unfortunately it seems that Hamza has not yet quite mastered the art of admitting you are wrong without first finding a way to move the goalposts.  He suggests a "new approach" which should take the following form

  1. The Qur’ān allows multiple and multi-level meanings.
  2. Our understanding of natural phenomena and science changes and improves with time.
  3. The Qur’ān is not inaccurate or wrong.
  4. In the case of any irreconcilable difference between a Qur’ānic assertion and a scientific one, the following must be done:
  • Find meanings within the verse to correlate with the scientific conclusion.
  • If no words can match the scientific conclusion then science is to be improved.
  • Find a non-scientific meaning. The verse itself may be pertaining to non-physical things, such as the unseen, spiritual or existential realities.
Far from being a new approach this is the same old approach of
  1. Re-interpret the verse so that instead of being "outright wrong" it is instead "not exactly right but not wrong either" and assume we have only just come to understand the verse properly after 1400 years of trying.
  2. If that is not possible then accept that the Quran is outright wrong but only in the eyes of science, then wait until the science changes or you die....whichever comes first.

You are one step closer Hamza, but still a long way to go yet. Don't give up!

Saturday, 20 July 2013

Why Islamphobia is not a phobia of Islam

Quite frankly I am sick of the word "Islamophobia".  The reason is that it is completely the wrong term.  Burning down mosques, pulling off hijabs and indecent graffiti are not forms of Islamophobia but anti-Muslim.  It seems that users of the word "Islamophobia" think that an irrational fear is when you are able to put the words "irrational" and "fear" into a single sentence about a specific subject, but this is simply not the case.

An irrational fear (or phobia) is when the fear itself is irrational, not the process which leads to deciding if something is dangerous or not.  Given accurate and sufficient data to show that something is harmless, one may still fear that thing if they use an irrational or illogical process to evaluate the data and therefore incorrectly conclude that thing presents a sufficient risk.  This is not a phobia, this is and misconception, an erroneous conclusion, irrational thinking.

For something to be a phobia it is the fear itself which must be irrational, i.e. there is no way for the person experiencing the fear to justify the level of fear they experience.  For example, given the data that a plastic doll has never attacked anyone and reaching the logical conclusion that dolls are therefore harmless, it is still possible for someone to fear plastic dolls whilst at the same time knowing there is nothing to fear.  Knowing there is nothing to fear and yet fearing it anyway is what makes the fear itself irrational and therefore a phobia.

For Islamophobia to be a phobia of Islam one must genuinely believe that there is very little or no threat at all, whether or not this opinion is well informed, ill informed, or completely uninformed is irrelevant, the important factor is that despite concluding there is no threat the person continues to fear Islam (or disproportionately fear Islam if one decides it poses a small threat).

  1. A fear of dolls is a phobia if you know that dolls cannot willfully harm you.
  2. If a person knows that most spiders are not poisonous then fearing all spiders is a phobia.
  3. If a person knows that few spiders are poisonous then a small amount of fear is warranted, but a high level of terror of all spiders is a phobia - because the fear is known by the phobic person to be disproportionately high for the threat.
  4. If a person believes that all spiders are poisonous then fearing all spiders is not a phobia, it is an irrational/erroneous conclusion, possibly based on little or incorrect data.  If it is proven to the person that most spiders are not poisonous it should change their level of fear of spiders, if they remain desperately fearsome of all spiders then it becomes a phobia.
People who have a phobia tend to avoid exposure to that which they fear, or when forced to be exposed to the thing they fear they are uncomfortable and wish to leave.  People who have a spider phobia tend to run away from spiders rather than seek them out to kill them.  People who have a clown phobia tend to run away from clowns rather than to seek them out and attack them.

One cannot say that Muslims pose no risk at all, but only in the same way that one cannot say strangers pose no risk at all; but fear of what Muslims might do is related to how they look (visually identifiable as a Muslim) or when they are in a social situation which identifies them as a Muslim.  The risk of being killed or harmed by a Muslim is probably less statistically likely than being killed by a non-Muslim, a complete stranger, or even someone you know.  It seems that the level of risk of harm from Muslims is what is actually being discussed when people argue as to whether or not Islamophobia is a real phenomenon.  This however distracts from the fact that the conclusion one reaches is nothing to do with whether or not fearing a belief or believer is a phobia.

So what are we really dealing with if not a phobia of Islam?  First there is the case of people being anti-Muslim.  This is a case of guilt by association, blaming the whole for actions of a few or of bigotry towards those deemed to be the "most different".  In many cases it is racism towards non-white people which is openly displayed because racists somehow feel it is more socially acceptable to hate Muslims (claiming they deserve it) than it is to admit they hate Pakistanis, and by extension hating anyone who seems to sympathise with them by dressing as them.

This is particularly highlighted by the accusations made against Muslims.
  1. Rape gangs: The circumstances of these actions were not permitted by Islamic laws.
  2. Female genital mutilation: As far as I can tell this is a social phenomenon rather than an Islamic one.
  3. Forced marriages: Although the female's consent is assumed she is permitted to object.
Regarding Islamophobia what can we conclude?
  1. Whether the person has accurate, inaccurate or no information is not a factor.
  2. Whether the person is rational or irrational in reaching their risk assessment conclusion is not a factor.
  3. Whether or not Islam is in reality a threat is surprisingly also not a factor.
  4. Only if the person fears Islam whilst believing that it is harmless or disproportionately fears Islam whilst believing it is of little risk makes their condition a phobia.
Racists and anti-Muslims might use Islam and Muhammad as topics of insult because they know it will emotionally hurt Muslims, but they're attacks are against the Muslims themselves.  The term Islamophobia is not only an incorrect description of hatred towards Muslims and/or the resulting attacks against them, it is also such a vague term them any valid criticism of Islam can easily end up with one being accused as Islamophobic, and thus by extension someone filled with hatred and a possible violent attacker.  One can be outright anti-Islamic yet at the same time believe Muslims to be equals worthy of the same rights as themselves.

Islam is an idea, disliking Islam means only that you dislike an idea.  The term "Islamophobia" is a strong tool for silencing criticism of a specific idea.  Not only does this word make criticism of Islam difficult it also serves as a gross injustice to the crimes being committed against Muslims today.  To attribute crimes of hate as an irrational fear / phobia of a specific idea belittles the severity of what is actually happening.  People are being attacked because they are Muslims.  The people being attacked are not collateral damage of people attacking their common idea, they are a social group that is being alienated and attacked and that is much worse than any attack against their beliefs.

Most Muslims you meet are more likely to offer you a free dinner than blow you up on a bus.  We must make sure we protect these Muslims rather than their beliefs.

Thursday, 11 July 2013

Welcome to Ramadan!

I'm waiting for a system update to complete, so seeing as I have some free time and it is the start of Ramadan I thought I'd write down something that I originally planned for a video but now find I don't have the time to create.


The Perseids /ˈpɜrsɨdz/ are a prolific meteor shower associated with the comet Swift-Tuttle. The Perseids are so-called because the point from which they appear to come, called the radiant, lies in the constellation Perseus. The name derives in part from the word Perseides (Περσείδες), a term found in Greek mythology referring to the sons of Perseus....The Perseid meteor shower has been observed for about 2000 years, with the earliest information on this meteor shower coming from the Far East.[1] Some Catholics refer to the Perseids as the "tears of St. Lawrence", since 10 August is the date of that saint's martyrdom.[5]The shower is visible from mid-July each year, with the peak in activity being between August 9 and 14, depending on the particular location of the stream. During the peak, the rate of meteors reaches 60 or more per hour. They can be seen all across the sky, but because of the path of Swift-Tuttle's orbit, Perseids are primarily visible in the northern hemisphere. As with all meteor showers, the rate is greatest in the pre-dawn hours, since the side of the Earth nearest to turning into the sun scoops up more meteors as the Earth moves through space
Source: WikiPedia - More information on the NASA website

Shooting stars, Jinns, and the Quran

The Quran claims the heavens are guarded by shooting stars which shoot down devils (or "Jinn") that try to eaves drop on revelations from Allah.  The successful of these eavesdropping Jinns then descend from the heavens and reveal those stolen revelations, mixed with lies, to poets.

    • 15.16-18 And verily in the heaven we have set mansions of the stars, and We have beautified it for beholders. And We have guarded it from every outcast devil, Save him who stealeth the hearing, and them doth a clear flame pursue.
    • 67.5 And verily We have beautified the world's heaven with lamps, and We have made them missiles for the devils, and for them We have prepared the doom of flame.

    • Shall I inform you upon whom the devils descend? They descend on every sinful, false one. They listen eagerly, but most of them are liars.As for poets, the erring follow them.

    • 37.6-10 We have indeed decked the lower heaven with beauty (in) the stars,- (For beauty) and for guard against all obstinate rebellious evil spirits, (So) they should not strain their ears in the direction of the Exalted Assembly but be cast away from every side, repulsed, for they are under a perpetual penalty. Except such as snatch away something by stealth, and they are pursued by a flaming fire, of piercing brightness.
    • 72.1-9 Say: It has been revealed to me that a company of Jinns listened (to the Qur'an). They said, "We have really heard a wonderful Recital! ... There were persons among mankind who took shelter with persons among the Jinns, but they increased them in folly ... And we (The Jinns) pried into the secrets of heaven; but we found it filled with stern guards and flaming fires. We used, indeed, to sit there in (hidden) stations, to (steal) a hearing; but any who listen now will find a flaming fire watching him in ambush."

    * Please do click the "Tafsirs" link after each verse to read the understanding of the verse from the point of view of the classical Muslim Quran commentators.

    Muhammad's prophethood

    Muhammad was born in 570CE and claimed prophethood in 610CE aged approximately 40.  According to Hadiths (stories from Muhammad's life) he used to spend days meditating/contemplating in the cave of Hira, and this is where it is claimed he was first visited by the angel Gabriel and given his first revelations from god (Allah).

    Take the Julian date of August 610CE and convert it using a Julian to Islamic calendar converter and we find that it falls on Ramadan.  Muhammad's first revelations would have come during a period of intense meteor showers, which was thought to be missiles attacking eavesdropping Jinns, maybe suggesting to him that something extraordinary was happening in the heavens regarding revelations from Allah.

    This perhaps is the rationale behind these verses in the Quran about revelations from the heavens and shooting stars being used to shoot down Jinn who try to eaves drop.

    To all cultural/practicing Mulsims and apostates, have a happy Ramadan!