Please note: From now on, I’ll be more public with my physical appearance and real name in my blog. The reasons for the pseudonym has largely exhausted itself. I had feared it being misused because the email I put on this blog was used to make materially false statements to a corporate bank about 2 years prior so I felt wary of the prospect.
“Mankind are always predisposed to believe that any subjective feeling, not otherwise accounted for, is a revelation of some objective reality.” – John Stuart Mill, Utilitarianism on page 44.
I had intended to write this several days ago and I cogitated over it for a long time because I was unsure of how to articulate my growing dismay and increasing disappointment with Western Ex-Muslim internet personalities. I’m unsure of where to begin or end this blog post and I worry I’ll just be regurgitating many of the same criticisms I gave out previously, but I think it is best that my changing views be made clear and explaining the reasons why is important as I want to make sure that I’m not being callous about this issue. I want to be as impartial in this assessment I’ll be giving as possible, but I am a fallible human being so if my arguments and reasoning seem foolish then I suppose I’m showing my limits with this blog post. I derive no schadenfreude from these blog posts criticizing them; it is my intention for this to be the final one about Western Ex-Muslim personalities, perhaps of Western Ex-Muslim movements and atheist movements in general, and yet another strong personal belief falls to be open to new ideas as Annie Duke’s Thinking in Bets, Friedrich Nietzsche’s philosophy, and several schools of thought in Sanatana Dharma recommends for all those who seek truth.
I’d first like to reiterate my lamentations, which I mentioned previously in prior blog posts: my main disappointment comes from the complete lack of dialogue when many of these Western Ex-Muslim personalities argued either on their Normalizing Dissent panels in various colleges or in their Youtube videos that they’re open to changing their mind because they know that they can be wrong. There’s been no meaningful dialogue or openness; I initially felt that this was understandable when I considered that many of them have tens of thousands of followers and obviously cannot get to each tweet by them. However, after seven months with no response to my criticisms which I shared on their Facebook page, their various Twitter pages, or via email; I came to recognize that they weren’t listening. I was essentially talking to a wall while they continued to espouse the same views without listening to any criticisms that I gave them. Important political criticisms such as the Indian National Congress party supporting Sharia courts which could get Ex-Muslims of India killed weren’t being listened to. With respect to Ex-Muslims of North America, I know they’re aware because I had discussed it with one of their people via phone personally and made sure they looked into the email I sent where I linked the news article. Despite all of that, they have continued to retweet news supporting the Indian National Congress party and uncritically defend them. Comparatively, I had the privilege of getting into arguments on Twitter with Ridvan Aydemir (the Apostate Prophet) on our disagreements about Christianity and Western philosophers, he had more followers than many of these other Ex-Muslims at the time and yet, he could always spare time to criticize my arguments, he didn’t block me when I criticized back as I feared (while other Western Ex-Muslim Atheists simply ignore what I say), and I never felt ignored when commenting on his tweets. When he was temporarily banned from Twitter, I made sure to support and tweet his video, even pinning it onto my Twitter profile in defiance of Twitter’s actions against him until he was restored approximately a month later. I informed him that he was an inspiration for all and I still see him making time to talk to people and being willing to accept criticism from others on Twitter. This is contrary to the actions of most of the other Western Ex-Muslim personalities more affiliated with Ex-Muslims of North America and Anti-Theism which Ridvan Aydemir sees himself as separate from. Thus, throughout it all, I had a consistent example of someone open to criticism and changing their views in response to their followers arguments and he can be obstinate in some of his views just as I am, but he’s willing to listen and discuss when he has the time. When he’s going away on vacation and explaining health complications, I obviously understand and respect this wonderful person’s privacy, as I’m sure most of his fanbase does. If he had issue with something I said, he’d criticize. If other Western Ex-Muslims ever had issues with my approach or disagreed with something I said, in most cases I had no way of knowing because there was no dialogue whatsoever so how can I change my views and how do I know that what I say has any value without dialogue? Most of the other Ex-Muslims of the West largely just give unintermittent uncertainty due to this issue.
Second, I want to make it absolutely clear that this is not an attempt to vilify the important contributions of organizations like Secular Jihadists (run by Ali A. Rizvi and Armin Navabi), Ex-Muslims of North America (co-founded by Sarah Haider and Muhammad Syed), Faithless Hijabi (founded by Zara Kay), Faith to Faithless (run by Imtiaz Shams), and many others like their organizations which seek to stymie violence against Ex-Muslims, deal with violence against Muslims, address domestic violence against Muslim women in the Islamic communities within the West, talk about Ex-Muslim issues to help fellow Ex-Muslims, bring more interesting content to Ex-Muslim audiences across the globe, and so much more. I’m fairly certain that my social media complaints on their public relations should count on the bottom of the importance in rank of what they work on a daily basis regarding Muslim community issues and Ex-Muslim human rights. Many of the people they’re helping are hesitant to be public, so if you care about human rights and the issues that these non-profit groups are working to mitigate then I think it is plainly obvious that they deserve support and assistance to work on these domestic efforts. Not being perfect by arbitrary whims of their fanbase such as people like me is probably just as much a ridiculous standard of expectations on my part and I must put blame on my own personal drawbacks too. I am sure that, whatever I say, it should rank at the bottom of the barrel in rank of importance when they’re working hard to decrease world suck for Muslims and Ex-Muslims. Insofar as anyone concerns themselves with the human rights of Ex-Muslims and Muslims alike, you don’t need to have any parasocial relationships to appreciate their best efforts and aid them in pursuing the mutual political interest of either adjusting Islam to Western standards or getting rid of it entirely as such efforts benefit all of us. Essentially, we should be willing to support them based upon their efforts and not upon whether we personally like them as such a standard helps us all work together better for shared goals of what we want the outcomes of our actions upon the world to be. In short, we must work together to prioritize reforming, casting doubt, or destroying Islam through intellectual rigor and Free Speech for the benefit of all people.
In the hopes of gaining more traction for my ebook, I’ve made this freely available from September 1st to September 5th, 2019 so if you’re interested and like a good deal, please think about obtaining my book for free:
Other Ebooks are also available for free. My fantasy story criticizing Neo-Nazism, the book I’m no longer proud of criticizing New Atheism in case anyone is interested in how my views have changed over the years, and my pamphlet opposing Christian conversions in India:
Note: This is Part 2 of 2 of my critique of people who I use to have more respect for. While many are accepting of my identity of Hindu Atheist/Hindu Anti-theist, there are those in the Western Atheist community who are not and there’s even worse problems on following through with their supposed beliefs and aims.
Shortly before writing this piece, I’ve found myself thrown out from yet another atheist discord server for “Islamophobia” for sharing Yasmine Mohammad’s tweets criticizing Islam. This is getting absolutely ridiculous. Some of these people identified as Anti-Theist, but refused to criticize Islam on the basis of it being “Islamophobic” to do so. Throughout my time there, discussions on criticizing Islam always devolved into accusations of personal bias on my part. I think I understand Sam Harris’s frustrations a bit better now and what he’s dealt with since 2006.
Perhaps beginning this blog post with the aforementioned paragraph seems to be in poor choice because I might be criticizing potential allies, but I really believed in the claims of prominent Western Ex-Muslims and I’ve been disappointed in the gap between the claims and the results. Now, I want to be clear that this isn’t the majority of them, but rather my favorite ones who inspired me. I’ve been assessing their activities after barely getting any meaningful response from them. I want to make it clear that I still absolutely support their activism insofar as support for human rights of people suffering from religious persecution in our contemporary time. Ex-Muslims are by far among the most thoughtful and intelligent people that I’ve met and it really is a shame that more people don’t support them or recognize their human rights. That being said, after seven months of trying to communicate and what felt like talking to a wall, I’ve become skeptical and pessimistic about their approach in their activism. Admittedly, some of it is varied; Armin Navabi and Ali A. Rizvi seem to be about promoting atheism completely, the organization Ex-Muslims of North America seems to have the same goal at least secondary to helping Ex-Muslims who have left the religion, and people like Imtiaz Shams seem more focused on reform while his organization Faith to Faithless is about supporting people who de-converted from their respective religious backgrounds. Sarah Haider recently stated on Twitter a few months back that she exclusively will focus on Ex-Muslim issues herself while being open to hearing Ex-religious stories of other backgrounds; she and non-Muslim atheist activists who escaped cult-like religions are forming a NYC conference in October 2019 to better inform people about how certain religions have cult-like behavior, and to better understand their dangers. Nevertheless, I think the approaches online, specifically on their Twitter interactions, need a re-examination.
My chief criticism are about either the inaccuracy of certain beliefs which when I challenge them on in Twitter (even bringing citations from historians via screenshot images) they never respond to them or when I challenge them on laughing off or ignoring historic abuses of the West, they never respond. It often feels like talking to a brick wall, especially when trying to communicate with the Ex-MNA Twitter account, Ali A. Rizvi, and Armin Navabi in particular. By comparison, Harris Sultan, Fay – the most Gracious, Zara Kay, Muhammad Syed, and sometimes Sarah Haider occasionally respond. However, when challenged on certain political topics that go into the realm of religion, it seems to be less often from a few of them. I want to be clear though: I’m frustrated and chose to write this because there has been no dialogue over issues they keep misconstruing and ignore my criticisms of their portrayal thereof. Over certain topics related to history or human rights, they just ignore my criticisms completely.
“Injustice and filth cast they at the lonesome one: but, my brother, if thou wouldst be a star, thou must shine for them none the less on that account! And be on thy guard against the good and just! They would fain crucify those who devise their own virtue—they hate the lonesome ones. Be on thy guard, also, against holy simplicity! All is unholy to it that is not simple; fain, likewise, would it play with the fire—of the fagot and stake.” Thus Spake Zarathustra Pg. 67. Thomas Common Edition.
The most recent example today on 6/2/19 is Rayhana Sultan, founder of emexs.org, which seeks to combat both issues like domestic violence in Muslim communities and violence from the far-right who try to co-opt her work.
As some of you may already know, Ex-Muslim Atheist Ridvan Aydemir, the Apostate Prophet, was outright banned from Twitter with no explanation.
Ex-Muslim Anti-Theist Zara Kay temporarily dealt with this a few months ago.
Things are getting worse and, while my anti-theism was growing during this process, I feel it has blossomed because I cannot believe we live in a world where people who are literally just trying to argue for their right to exist, be heard, and have the same civil liberties as us all are being targeted, silenced, and banned for the crime of wanting to live their lives. This is all because of religious tolerance. Hitchens was absolutely right, Religion Poisons Everything. While Sam Harris has dealt with this crap for what is effectively 12 years now, at least he wasn’t being silenced, even if mockery, derision, and manipulation of his words is hardly any better.
This behavior is completely ridiculous and I am just so frustrated right now. I can’t believe we live in this kind of world. To get my point across further…
President Barack Obama was rebuffed by social media companies, including Twitter, when he requested that they take down ISIS terrorist content. Yet, Twitter has a new policy against so-called hate speech right around the time a Saudi Prince became the second majority shareholder of Twitter. Coincidentally, the selective targeting against Ex-Muslims just so happened to have begun around this point while “respected” Saudi Imams can continue to argue freely on Twitter that marital rape doesn’t exist.
A correction: Twitter has banned ISIS content over the years, but is also targeting human rights activists critical of Islamic despots and giving their information to the law enforcement of Islamic countries. Even those living overseas who have escaped such despots.
I am absolutely livid right now. Just thought I’d share to continue in any small way I can in having their voices heard. I worry things will only get worse since Twitter seems to be acting more pernicious as the months go by.
Do you remember when intelligent interviews and discussions were the norm? When you got to learn something of incredible value from an interview and it wasn’t a pissing contest with an interviewee leaving the stage because they couldn’t take a few basic questions that journalists asked so they could clarify any confusion for audiences? Or when people could just be part of a panel and not have someone storm off for hashtags and tweets and then be rewarded by the worthless rabble for refusing to even be part of a discussion?
Free Speech seems to already be dead and it is dead because so-called advocates of it don’t even follow its core tenants. The people who behave like the recent so-called “public intellectuals” have killed it and continue to defecate on its corpse while claiming to be its paragons.
So, awhile back I attempted to share Ex-Muslims of North America content on Nerdfighteria Discords in an effort to join their communities while sharing information on an important human rights topic. When doing this, I was immediately accused of bigotry, when talking about human rights I was accused of making a strawman (even though no opposing argument was given nor any discernible information regarding any opposing argument), and I was told that I was posting on “incorrect channels” — the channels I selected were related to Politics and stated it was for divisive and controversial topics. Evidently, human rights wasn’t included in that package as I was muted by one Nerdfighteria community and the other refused to respond to my question of whether they valued the human rights of Ex-Muslims.
A part of me just didn’t want to believe that Nerdfighteria, a community that seemed so calm, compassionate, and open to polite communication of ideas could be so intolerant towards the human rights of some of the most vulnerable people in the world today who live in fear within their own societies for the crime of having their own opinions. So, I made and used an alternative account to check and see if I could open discussions about the human rights of Ex-Muslims who essentially have to live in fear for their very lives and the human rights abuses that women in Islamic majority communities suffer. I primarily did this because as far as cost-benefits analysis, the human rights of people should outweigh the woeful ideal of religious tolerance. If that seems like an excuse for “trolling” then I would honestly respond by pointing out that the human rights of these people and the ability to give their human rights issues a platform should be paramount to the public discourse. Just as we discuss Yazidi and Christian women being abused as sex slaves by ISIS, Ex-Muslims being hunted down and killed for the crime of freedom of thought is just as relevant of a human rights issue. Also, I find it astonishing and sickening that fellow Liberals can dismiss the human rights of these people so callously without any regard for what they’re condemning these people too. I suspect it’s because people don’t want to open the discussion on the hot topic of religion in order to protect their own religious traditions. As such, I suspect that their own religion is more important than people’s human rights. Furthermore, trolling seems to just be a meaningless personal attack for shutting down discussion whenever a topic that is personally uncomfortable comes up. It’s a meaningless term that ignores critical examination of the content in order to swipe away all nuanced discussion due to personal comfort levels. I personally feel a sense of frustration and disbelief that this crucial human rights issue hasn’t found a stronger acceptance in Left-leaning public discourse.
For this new attempt, I used another username and shared videos of human rights crimes.
Islam is an innately violent, hateful, racist, sexist, and bigoted religion. It is the most barbaric of the Major religions.
Islam is a hateful and dangerous death cult. The Sharia (Islamic Divine Law of the Abrahamic God) must be accepted as unquestioned fact that nobody can argue against to be a Muslim. The only people allowed to interpret the Hadiths are so-called “Islamic Scholars” which are composed of people who know Arabic and are an Islamic theologian (Imam or some other priestly equivalent) so a “scholar” is a theologian who accepts the Quran as unquestioned fact that can’t be challenged. Obviously, there is no room for critical thinking there.
The average Muslim will then seek the Islamic “scholar’s” advice on how to live and the Theologian’s duty is to categorically assess what parts of the outside world are allowed or not allowed for a Muslim to follow. Two more rules further solidify Muslims largely being incapable of critical thinking or even thinking in general. Fitna, i.e. you can’t distress a Muslim for believing in Islam or make them question it. And finally, Bidah which is referred to as “invention” i.e. you can’t change any aspect of Islam with a new teaching or idea because the Quran is suppose to be the perfect book on how to live life for all-time for Muslims.
In effect, this religion categorically goes to war with all outside logic and reasoning so that Muslims learn only to value other Muslims. It’s a cult in every sense of the word. The highest authority is considered the Quran and Muslims must seek Imams or equivalent “Islamic scholars” for their opinions. Oh, and Muhammad is regarded as the perfect human being to model after.
Therefore, Muslims can’t possibly be critical thinkers, they’re largely incapable of thinking itself, and they threaten to harass, insult, and kill any and all who leave the faith of Islam and who make Muslims question it.
A few facts for you:
A concise and clear film on the challenges that Reformist Muslims and their allies face in order to modernize Islam. Sam Harris notes that Maajid Nawaz’s reformist movement is likely the toughest job of them all. The ultimate message of the film is that we, the public, can help with criticizing bad ideas such as in internet forums, twitter, facebook, and other places. This film is recommended for those who want to help reformist and Ex-Muslims into changing the conversation and getting liberals and centrist conservatives to help regain the narrative on the problems of Islam. Sam Harris and Maajid Nawaz go into the concentric circles and differences between Jihadism (violence in the name of Islam for a political goal of imposing an Islamist order), Islamism (a movement trying to impose an Islamist order, but not all do so by violent methods), Conservative Muslims (Muslims who don’t want Sharia as the law of the land, but want to maintain their own Islamic conditions in their families; potentially including hatred for Jews, hatred for Gays, and honor killing), and then the smallest group would be the Reformist Muslims that Maajid Nawaz is a part of.
The majority of the film centers around Maajid’s early life, how he was mistreated in British schools by his classmates at a very early age, and how his isolation became more pronounced when Neo-Nazi groups had a resurgence in Great Britain. The immediate consequence of which resulted in numerous beatings, racial epithets hurled at him daily, and witnessing his friends severely injured by Neo-Nazis using knives to stab his friends in the neck or other areas throughout his early life. His safety was constantly threatened and he witnessed the bloodied bodies of his friends far too often. His parents were actually quite normal and did their best, but the political climate of the youth during his time resulted in him withdrawing from others. He spent his time listening to rap music and that’s when radical Islamic recruitment organizations were able to exploit him.
I have to say that this explanation made way more sense than the tripe he had said in the Bill Maher interview. I had been interested in his viewpoints, but I had thought he was lying when he mentioned how rap music got him into an Islamist group. That explanation made absolutely no sense to me and I had assumed that Sam Harris had been duped by a man who was clearly a dishonest actor. It wasn’t until much later – after listening to the Ex-Muslims of North America panel – that I decided to give him a second chance. While Ex-MNA seemed like legitimate actors, I was still unwilling to believe that Maajid Nawaz was until they had mentioned his work in one of their panels because his explanation about rap music was the silliest thing I had ever heard as an excuse to join an Islamist group. His more detailed and honest explanation here seems far more believable and reasonable. To my own chagrin, Maajid Nawaz clearly has difficulty speaking openly about his early life because it was so painful for him. Considering the conditions he lived in and what he witnessed due to the Neo-Nazis of Britain, it’s not surprising or unreasonable to expect that he was easy pickings for an Islamist group at the time.
These next few portions are tidbits from the film and I’m going through them in a messy manner. The film organizes itself coherently and all these details make complete sense within the film, but it’s too much for me to go through in a few paragraphs. He went to college and used the idea of cultural tolerance to his advantage for the Islamist group’s purposes with the administration too flimsy to challenge him because they didn’t want to look like racists. It should be noted that it was not the professors who neglected this, but specifically the college administration that Maajid Nawaz highlights in his explanation. After a brutal murder caused by one of his fellow organizers who killed a black youth at the campus, he and his buddies were all expelled from the college. As an adult, he speaks of his regrets and how the college should have challenged them on a sexist picture they distributed around the campus, but the college administration never did due to fear of being referred to as racist. He mentions how, if they had, that murder may never have happened since they were given free access to do as they pleased in their student organization using the charge of racism as a shield. He speaks of the horrifying experiences in an Egyptian torture prison and how it was Amnesty International’s kindness and activism for his human rights that led to the first cracks in his belief in a Sharia-enforced society. Later on, in an interview on the BBC, when he was challenged on the sexist views of the Islamist group he was a part of where his views on the organization truly started to slip. Eventually, he became a former Islamist and founded Quilliam and joined with Sam Harris for both the book and the film after they had a scathing first encounter.
Sam Harris details the troubles he’s gained for differentiating religions by doctrines and how singling out Islam’s has caused wave after wave of criticism within the atheist community and the Left with clips of his debates with Hedges, Aslan, and the infamous incident with Ben Affleck. Harris explains the issues he’s had and how difficult Maajid Nawaz’s position is in reforming Islam. In fact, Ex-Muslims seem to gain higher yields in getting people to outright leave Islam than Maajid’s own activism and I’m firmly in favor of their cause. However, Harris and Nawaz are still allies in trying to change this dynamic as reforming 1.6 billion people is going to be decades of hard work. Even in the more atheist tolerant countries like the US, atheists are still discriminated against, the Christian Right continues to try to destroy women’s rights, and the Christian Right doesn’t acknowledge the targeted murders of transgender people.
Overall, this film is a 5 out of 5. It’s highly recommended if you want to learn more about the problems of Islam and how to help Ex-Muslims or Reformist Muslims.