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.
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.
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.