Muslim is the new black

Published: October 20, 2014

Lemon asked Harris loaded questions, encouraging him to spew his ignorant half-true rhetoric about Islam. PHOTO: REUTERS/AFP

This past Monday I watched CNN’s Don Lemon question Sam Harris sympathetically, almost apologetically, about Ben Affleck’s defence of the Muslims of the world.

Lemon asked Harris loaded questions, encouraging him to spew his ignorant half-true rhetoric about Islam. And this claim I do not make condescendingly, rather Harris’ knowledge appeared lacking because of its biased subjectivity rather than studied objectivity on the subject of Islam, his simplistic rambling sounded amateurish and very myopic.

discussion on religion within the same religion is fundamentally complicated, let alone in comparison to other religions, hence to make the dialogue intellectual and fair, the media must play a responsible role and have a scholar on Islam to discuss it, or at least defend it, rather than an atheist who gets his knowledge about Islam from Fox News.

To seek clarification on the claims that Harris made, I talked to a prominent Islamic scholar, Dr Aslam Abdullah. Harris claimed that the concept of jihad, martyrdom, sex slaves and death to apostates are central to the doctrine and practice of Islam, unlike any other faith. Also, he clearly stated that such verses must be ‘retired and shelved’ from the Quran.

To this Dr Aslam says,

“Harris made the pivotal mistake of singling Quranic verses out of their historical context, a mistake that extremists also commit. The verses referring to fighting the enemies refer to a condition where the animosity of the power elites against the emerging movement of dignity and peace led by Muslims had assumed a violent situation. It is in this context that Muslims were asked to defend themselves. ‘Infidel’ is a term that Harris used; a term nowhere to be found in the Quran or Hadith, however the term that the Quran uses to describe those who reject the Muslim call of peace and dignity is kafir, which literally means those who consciously cover up the truth.

Harris missed the basic Quranic principles of peace, compassion and mercy. The Quran does not call for the death of apostates, or aggressive or preventive wars, however it allows the community to take up arms under the authority of legitimate elected Muslim rulers for defensive purposes only; to stand up against all those who are violently bent on destroying peace. If a country practices stoning to death, or kills apostates, it is a problem of that country and not Islam, this imperative distinction must be made. Islam in its concept of martyrdom emphasises the principle that America takes pride in: give me liberty or give me death.”

In essence we have a short memory, it was the Christian whites who ethnically cleansed native Americans, Christian whites who were responsible for the holocaust, and Christian whites who were the founders of the KKK, but the rational and intellectual scholars of all religions and races do not hold accountable the entire Christian faith or the white race, do they?

Talking on the issue of sex slaves and concubines, Dr Aslam Abdullah opines,

“In pre-Islamic times, it was a common practice to sexually and physically exploit those who were considered slaves; it was norm of the times to treat them as sex slaves. The dawn of Islam established the rules of marriage and declared physical relations outside the marriage as illegitimate. Islam encouraged the previous owners of female slaves to free them and give them the option to marry whomever they wanted to marry. Sex slavery was abolished. Islam also abolished the idea of prisoners of war to be taken as sex slaves. It asked the Muslims to either return the prisoners voluntarily or in exchange of Muslim prisoners. Harris got it entirely wrong on this issue.”

And on various other issues, one might add. The Islamic faith should not be held responsible for a historical narration that is distorted and concocted by a power elite group who justify everything they do in the name of Islam.

When amateur and pseudo scholars hiding behind intellectual liberalism make dishonest, factually incorrect and dangerously irresponsible statements they end up walling themselves. Harris repeatedly claimed that Islam, unlike all other religions, is inherently violent since it supports and promotes ferocity; stoning to death, jihad, martyrdom death to apostates as suggested in the Quranic verses. Verses referring to the same should be retired or shelved from the religion according to Harris.

In essence, if we are to follow the same logic, as presented by Harris, stating that the problem lies in the Quran and not its interpretation then, according to Dr Aslam Abdullah,

“We then must retire ninety percent of the Bhagavad Gita, the Hindu scriptures that advocate violence, seventy percent of the Old Testament that condones violence and lays the principle of an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth or stoning to death.

Harris describes a global manipulation of the Islamic faith, clearly stating that it is not Muslims who are manipulating the Quran and Islam, but vice a versa. In these volatile times one must accept that there are groups and individuals in Muslim countries that are using the name of Islam to serve their political agenda, but it is the moral responsibility of the rational minds to differentiate between the faith and the manipulation of faith. The telling of half-truth is a dangerous game, a game where there are no winners, but only Armageddon.

Dr Aslam Abdullah is the director of the Islamic Society of Nevada. He teaches Islamic studies at the OLLI centre of the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. He has triple masters in Arabic and Islamic studies, sociology and has a PhD in communications.

Bisma Tirmizi

Bisma Tirmizi

The author lives for the simple pleasures and her musings over a cup of tea almost always find a way to be the written word. She also writes for Her book 'Feast With A Taste Of Amir Khusro', published by Rupa Publications, is available in stores now.

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.

  • Working woman

    Thanks for writing.Recommend

  • ajeet

    And what are the ahmedis,shias, hazaras and Christians in pakistan? Halal chicken?Recommend

  • JayMankind

    Did he say anything that was not in the book? Did he make up stuff?Recommend

  • Heh ?

    ‘The dawn of Islam established the rules of marriage’
    Lol…You mean that all the prophets before 600-700 A.D. had nothing to say about sexual misconduct ? 19 centuries before the dawn of Islam,Hazrat Musa gave the 10 commandments which forbade adultery to the Jews around 1250 B.C. Do your research before sending off presumtuous articles.Recommend

  • UR

    The onus is on Muslims to counter. No body counters well enough and hence more negativity has developed.
    Even if ,say Bhagvat Gita advocates violence……has anyone used it as an excuse to wage wars !!! ? Never……Recommend

  • Sridhar Kaushik

    (In essence, if we are to follow the same logic, as presented by
    Harris, stating that the problem lies in the Quran and not its
    interpretation then, according to Dr Aslam Abdullah,

    “We then must retire ninety percent of the Bhagavad Gita, the Hindu scriptures that advocate violence, seventy percent of the Old Testament that condones violence and lays the principle of an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth or stoning to death.”)
    Dr Aslam Abdullah, whoever that person is, is on shaky grounds here when he talks about scriptures other than Qoran.
    Bhagwat Geetha is entirely a spiritual text that talks about how to live a life of a yogi. That concept is alien to muslims who take up religion as a chore to be followed to the last line dictated by their prophet without taking into account the context.
    I have not read the Qoran so I cannot comment on the content. But clearly there is a problem with the Islamic world today. Islam has become associated with terrorism. If more than 90% of terrorists are from that religion, one is forced to come to the conclusion that there is something terrbily wrong with that religion.Recommend

  • Nb

    90% of the Gita & 70% of the Old Testament condones violence ?
    Lady,I can wager ,you never read the Gita,the Tanakh or the Old Testament. Try to throw mud at people quoting,an eye for an eye,or the Holocaust etc (or any other incidents from the dark ages or even from before independance). But people who read the above mentioned 3 texts aren’t known globally as terrorists who quote from the Old Testament,Gita,Tanakh- take up arms,turn fanatic and kill kuffars ,in this modern age of science &technology ( or even in this century)

  • Ahmed

    I dont get it. Apostasy punishment in Islam is death so is the punishment for homosexuality. Also, stoning for adultery and death for people who make fun of prophet by drawing his pictures. Why dont people just admit Islam is not liberal at all?Recommend

  • Heh ?

    That’s presumPtuousRecommend

  • ab1990

    “We then must retire ninety percent of the bhagavad gita, the Hindu scriptures that advocate violence”

    Hindus only read gita. They dont follow each and every word of gita like muslims follow each and every word of quran.

    If u come to india and ask hindus about gita more than 90% of people cant even answer questions about gita. Bhagavad gita is not drilled into hindu minds like quran is drilled into muslims all over the world.Recommend

  • I am a Khan

    I found your comments a bit reasonable, in a long list of bigoted comments. Actually two things to note here. Regarding Bhagwad Gita, I think the author meant the story of mahabharat, which is full of violence/war (but its war conducted to end oppression). Thats exactly the same concept in the Quranic verses that call for Jihad. Its war to end oppression. The jihads done in the Holy Prophet (saw)’s time and the verses mentioned in the Holy Quran all relate to defensive wars fought by the muslims after migrating to Medina and still facing invading forces of the Makkan kuffar.
    Regarding terrorism and Islam, firstly the media magnifies the issue. out of a population of 2 Billion muslims, there may be a few thousand extremists, which is a very tiny minority but the media shows as if every muslim is an extremist. Secondly I accept that nowadays, Islam and muslims are two separate things. Gone are the days when the muslims used to practice islam in its spirit. Muslims of today practice the body/form of Islam (ie prayers, Hajj, Ramadan, etc) but they have left the spirit of islam (humanity), an example of which was to forgive the worst enemies as the Prophet (saw) did when Makkah was taken over (without any war).Recommend

  • siesmann

    indifference of the majority to glaring illnesses in society is the main cause of continuous violence in Islam.Denial further magnifies it.Small differences between sects have been made into humongous monstrosities ,and life,and death matters.One can even feel the violence in the tone of this article,as also in article on Malala.Recommend

  • UtkarshSinghNain

    This was a poorly written article. That’s all I have to say. If you’d put in some proper arguments, I would have responded. As far as I can tell, there’s so much to refute and respond to that it’s not worth the effort.Recommend

  • inti
  • BrutalTruth

    You and Dr.Aslam are same in same league as Sam Harris. You grudge about mis-interpretation of Quran, while at the same time you freely quote“We then must retire ninety percent of the Bhagavad Gita, the Hindu scriptures that advocate violence”. I am pretty sure and bet on it either you or Dr. Aslam would not have spent even a single minute to read Bhagwat Gita or other hindu scriptures. It is OK for you to mis-quote other religious scriptures. Please read Bhagwat Gita first, quote the lines that promote violance (in proper context) write a blog on that and then I will be more than happy to answer your questions or respond. There are more than billion hindus globally, spread in all parts of the world and you will find them more rational and integrated with the entire world. Just to enlighten you one of the major pillars of Hinduism is Karma that promotes ideals of good deeds not in this life but also in other lives. But you will find it hard to believe that other religions too have more advanced concepts than Islam.Recommend

  • Anjum

    There is no such thing as liberalism in Islam. We must all follow the laws of the Almighty Allah. What ever punishments are ordained must be followed. You guys do not knw what you are talking about.Recommend

  • Mohammed

    Just one question. Why does Pakistan still have blasphemy laws?Recommend

  • vinsin

    How many wars has been fought on the basis of Gita in the history of mankind? Gita is not the only scriptures of Hindus. HIndu is a civilization not a religion.

    “Christian whites who ethnically cleansed native Americans, Christian whites who were responsible for the holocaust, and Christian whites who were the founders of the KKK,
    but the rational and intellectual scholars of all religions and races
    do not hold accountable the entire Christian faith or the white race, do

    Because they were not killing in the name of Christianity or Bible. It was not the Muslims who condone the holocaust or did anything to stop it, it was the same western world. Why Pakistan didn’t send its army to fight against ISIS? Where are arab pagans, Zorastrians, hindus in Pakistan, Egyptian, Mesopotamians, Armenian Christians, Jordanian Christians, Buddhists in Pakistan and Afghanistan?

    Why you stopped at Hinduism? What about Jainism and Buddhism?
    Compare to Muslims you can should very much tell how many religion have Hinduism destroyed?Recommend

  • truthseeker

    Author is wasting her time telling rest of the world, Islam is peaceful religion. We already know this. Where it says ‘kill non-muslims’, it actually means ‘ do not kill non-muslims’. How hard is that? They only seem to be interested in telling looking at the symptoms, are not interested in admitting genuine concerns others have.Recommend

  • Nomad1412

    Why do Pakistanis (Yes, I mean Pakistanis specifically and not all Muslims) deflect attention by comparing to others?

    Hitler may have been a Christian, early American explorers who killed and infected Indians with tuberculosis may have been Christians, KKK was definitely Christian (WASP), but the community as a whole identified their mistakes, took care of their problems and learnt from it.

    Pakistanis on the other hand are reluctant to learn anything and become unnecessarily combative when faced with uncomfortable truths.Recommend

  • muhammad

    In mahabharath the actual war happens for only 18 days, so please keep your nonsense to yourself.Recommend

  • Nomad1412

    As a Christian, I disagree with you. While the backdrop is that of a war, the Gita actually talks about morality and not about war.

    It appears the author doesn’t know the difference between the Gita and the Mahabharata.Recommend

  • Zee

    We don’t want liberal Islam!!! Islam is complete in all aspects.Recommend

  • Reddy

    first thing gita is a description of a battle field and it’s morals ,ethics and betrayals involved in a epic battle called kurukshetra…unlike muslims, hindus do not have a moral code book like quran or hadith on how to live one’s life,Recommend

  • Zee

    No! At least we have a much better record than you guys! Just google and count the minorities cleansing in your country since independence. You will be surprised. Only Muzaffarfgarh in UP is a reference for you while Love Jihad is a new theme which you guys are currently advocating for the very benefit of minorities.

    You are not much different from us. At least we do not jail someone on not standing on national anthem and clean our mosques if any schedule cast Hindu visits to any Mundir. Recommend

  • Indian

    Have you heard of a christian militant/terrorist/suicide bomber who quotes ‘ an eye for an eye’ in the name of Jesus/Moses/Abraham,from the Bible ? Never. So you can conclude that those statements from the Old Jewish & Christian scriptures have been ‘retired’ by Christians (in your words) Time to emulate them.Recommend

  • Zee

    It’s easier to said that 90 percent of the terrorists are Muslims! What will you expect from them when the whole world invaded Iraq on a baseless account i.e. WMDs and killed millions of innocent people. Any sane can expect a rebuttal.

    What would you expect from the Phalstanians when whole of their country has been illegally captured by the Israelis and millions of Phalastanians including women, children killed by Israel. Again a rebuttal

    And Last, Kashmir! Atrocities by indian army and then rebuttal which you labeled terrorism.Recommend

  • nohadiths

    Perhaps you haven’t read the Quran. What you have posted is opposite of the Quran. Why on earth would God allow you to stone someone to death for making a picture?Recommend

  • pls

    And yet here you are speaking presumptuously. The rules of marriage had been locally or otherwise established before but had always lost themselves to cultural or personal preference, in effect the rules were lost to the people, it is not wrong to say Islam had established said rules because they had long since faded away. Islam as a word used to denote submission to God, was something Prophets before the last also believed in and advocated, jews were as much “muslims” as we are today, time and nomenclature is the only divideRecommend

  • pls

    Actually there is such a thing as Hindu terrorists and forceful converters, and there have been for quite some time. Christianity saw the crusades and it takes more then a “modern age” to change people when you consider, the world moves forward at different paces, time isn’t universal proof of development or the contrary, and time cannot absolve one of their pastRecommend

  • pls

    Muslims claim neither liberal nor conservative views, things such as that change with the times and the views themselves, whilst staying the same, by public opinion become relevant or outdated. Muslims believe only in what God has sent down, regardless of preferenceRecommend

  • raw is war

    Gita? I am yet to read a single word from Gita and I consider myself a devout Hindu. guess the author is confusing Mahabharat with Gita. We are advised not to keep a copy of Mahabharat at Home.Recommend

  • pls

    You forgot to mention sunnis, actually, whilst minorities are targeted in Pakistan, majorities are in no way safe either, we are at odds with certain societal elements, but you cannot take them to represent us because if it were truly our mandate, there would be no “minorities” to speak of, and no majorities would be randomly killed eitherRecommend

  • pls

    This may be fine and well for your purposes, but since when has not following your religion been proof of its teachings? You are providing a defense no one was awaiting, and an irrelevant one at thatRecommend

  • siesmann

    The question is why Muslims are so incompleteRecommend

  • siesmann

    so you admit what they are trying to denyRecommend

  • amoghavarshaii

    The proof of Islam as ……….. Religion in the behavior of its followers.
    Can you talk about its followers more so that people (Including most muslims) will understand Islam.
    You can talk about
    How there is no Islamic country which can be called a super power or less not in UN as ( there are 3 christian dominated or christian countries and 2 atheists)

    why the deviation is more in following Islam across muslims.

    There are lot more like this, don’t tell me to read quran to know,
    I could manage so much without reading bible or other scripts.

    Give examples then only the true value of religion is known.Recommend

  • Critical

    “We then must retire ninety percent of the Bhagavad Gita, the Hindu scriptures that advocate violence, seventy percent of the Old Testament that condones violence and lays the principle of an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth or stoning to death.”

    Please let me know when you can find evidences of terrorists justifying their actions based on Bhagwat Gita..

    When a christian country stones a woman for losing her virginity before marriage as prescribed by Old Testament

    An Jew killing another for working in Saturday as its forbidden during the day of Sabbath..

    A white owning a slave as prescribed by Bible.

    All religions,except Islam, has understood that the laws written during Bronze Age cannot be applied in the age of 21st century…However,Islam still tends to live in the past….

    Till Islam reinvents itself,the 99% ‘peaceful’ muslims will held responsible for the 1% extremists because they secretly accept that they are doing whats prescribed in ur books..Recommend

  • Critical

    The concept of marriage is even found in Eskimos,African Bush tribes,Amazonian tribes…

    You dont need a prophet from God to tell people to get married…


  • UtkarshSinghNain

    Ben Affleck, meet Zee.Recommend

  • UtkarshSinghNain

    Ben Affleck, meet Anjum as well.

  • Nero

    Dear Author:

    First, Please have a look at this survey –

    Second, as pointed out by other readers, no other religious community carries out violent strikes on other communities in the name of their sacred texts. Yes, there are violent elements in every group, but in most cases they neither base their acts on sacred texts, nor do the majority of populations condone the most nefarious aspects of these texts. I am still to come across one single person who will say that it is OK to kill someone because Gita/Bible/Torah say so.

    It is unfortunate to see a very facile “defense”. Instead of wasting time defending Islam from peripheral criticism by some TV presenters, please defend it from the blood thirsty Mullahs and their acolytes. You will do a great service to your religion.


  • Ansh

    Good discussion can be done over this topic but since muslims believe Islam is perfect and questioning not allowed so chapter closed.and Non muslims should not have any issues with it as everyone has right to follow own belief unless it hurts other.

    Now come to the reality more then 90% of terrorists claims they are fighting for Islam. does muslim world endorse that? if not why we do not see massive movements against these groups as they are openly committing blasphemy by using religion name for hate crime?

    muslims demands equal rights when they are in minorities (which i also support) but come here non muslims can’t be PM of pakistan, you can not eat or drink publicly during Ramadan in saudi arabia? etc.

    see unrest in the world one group is common everywhere. why?

    Though i have not read Quran but ready to accept its perfect for the reason that 2 billion people have faith in it. but still a question and valid one. why the society which follows its principle are producing so many miscreants/killers throughout the world.
    waiting for logical replies not empty abuse thanks.Recommend

  • xyz

    It’s a great link. I hope the Author revises her opinion about blaming westerners for Islamophobia after reading this.Recommend

  • Baddi Maga

    Dear Ms. Tirmizi,

    I started reading your column with much promise and anticipation. Then i came
    to your third paragraph, “I talked to a prominent Islamic scholar….zzzzz”…Then
    i lost my interest (and your article lost its credibility).Recommend

  • One minute

    90% of Gita…Which formula he used or he just thrown these figur like other terrorist..oops I mean extreeemisst….Recommend

  • One minute


  • One minute

    Sir Gita is niether Mahabharata nor it includes Mahabharata inside it….its song of god…pls know these things a little bit I suggest read once Gita u will get the real taste of cosmos…western scholars start realizing that….Recommend

  • Ahmed

    And who said being liberal is right?

    Islam by it’s very nature is moderate. The more strictly you adhere to it the more moderation and balance there will beRecommend

  • Ahmed

    Hazart Musa brought the message of Islam. Not the present form of Judaism.Recommend

  • Hindu

    I have read the Gita and testify that it is not 90% about violence. In fact, the Gita itself has NOTHING about violence. I would suggest the author to first take a cursory glance at the summary of the chapters on (yeah, that’s right, wiki) to see that it is a philosophical treatise which deals with the conflict of living in a phenomenal world yet aspiring to attain conduct and behavior that transcend such a world.

    The Mahabharat, which is the greater poem of which the Gita is a part, indeed has a basic premise that can be misinterpreted as condoning violence — that is, the protection of the weak from tyranny can justify war. Here also, it is a war that is fought not between civilians but between armies — for the end result is to not convert so and so from one religion to the other but to overthrow a tyrannical regime.Recommend

  • Anoop

    Then, you’d have to conclude that the scriptures in Quran are open to massive interpretations. This is obvious from the 57 Muslim majority states in the world and their current status. And, also of the state of Muslim communities in non-Muslim majority states.Recommend

  • Gautam Bhattacharya

    “according to Dr Aslam Abdullah,
    “We then must retire ninety percent of the Bhagavad Gita,” Has this he ever bothered to read the Srimad BhagavadGita or has he the wit or honesty to understand any of it? What 90%, ? If somemone had spoken of his so-called prophet in that manner the entire ummah would have reacted with: kill, murder, hurt! I am a shastri, and I invite him to have a coherent discussion line by line of the SrimadBhagavadGita. In ancient India, the loser converted to the winner’s religion. Recommend

  • Anoop

    The reason for that maybe is for us Religion is emdedded with Culture.
    Bursting crackers on Diwali is as Religious as reading the Gita. Both here are optional and it depends on the person what he prefers doing. The more intellectually inclined followers read the Gita and there are millions of them.
    Out of the 1 Billion Hindus, there are millions who know it by heart and nearly all of them know the stories of Mahabharata, which have been told to us by our grandparents.
    Most turn to the Gita as they get older and wiser. Its a very well written text with no scope of misinterpretation. Maybe the other Religious texts are not.Recommend

  • Anoop

    Then, you’d have to conclude Gita is much less open to violent and extremist interpretation
    Who here is willing to do that? Believers need to believe. Either Quran doesn’t advocate violence at all or if it does then is open to regressive interpretation on a massive scale. Usually people take the first option, but when confronted with evidence are stuck with the 2nd option, but will never admit it.Recommend

  • rk29

    This is just poorly argued with the blind idea to defend Islam.

    Christians do and have done horrible things, no one will debate that and the Bible, the old testament, is filled with horrible examples of murder, genocide, and general immorality. “Love, honor, and obey” – it isn’t a manual for the equal treatment of women nor gays.

    It also isn’t the foundation of liberal belief nor western belief anymore. Islam isn’t the new black. Black is a race, Islam is a religion, a set of beliefs, and a set of ideas. They are bad ideas. Christianity is also filled with bad ideas but Islam is perpetrating and executing on these bad ideas in far greater numbers.

    Religion is nuts, that is the reality, it is faith in the absence of logic and reason, blind faith at that, Those that claim to be Muslims are in many countries and if you dissent, you may be killed, that is a major cultural problem and it is more inherent to Islam today, than any other religion.Recommend

  • Anoop

    Where is @Naila, who had claimed there is absolutely NO Islamic text which condones violence?Recommend

  • Anoop

    What is there is what is there. The liberal believers want the world not to focus on what is there, but what should be there.Recommend

  • aslam Abdullah

    People do not need a religion to kill and murder others. But the name of God has often been invoked by those who claim to be religious to kill others. During the last century European Christians killed some 102 million people. During the last 100 years Hindus killed millions of Dalits and untouchables. In the previous century, Muslims killed some 2 million. Jews, Buddhists and atheists did not lag behind. People can use any passage of any religious text to justify their killing. So the issue is not which religion is more violent. the name of God has been invoked to orchestrate killing. Many of you missed the point of the article. The purpose of divine guidance is not cause death and destruction. In their struggle to establish peace, all religious communities faced violence and all of them had to defend them against those bent on denying the peace. There are violent passages in all religious texts. By purging these from scriptures you are not going to solve the problem of violence. In the US, every week 600 plus people die as a result of gun violence. So the issue is the idea non violence cannot solve the problems is at stake. By purging the texts you cannot reinforce the idea.Recommend

  • ajeet

    Last I heard, no one used Geetha to justify removing someone’s head or hailed Krishna while flying planes into buildings.Recommend

  • Prashant

    “In essence we have a short memory, it was the Christian whites who ethnically cleansed native Americans, Christian whites who were responsible for the holocaust, and Christian whites who were the founders of the KKK, but the rational and intellectual scholars of all religions and races do not hold accountable the entire Christian faith or the white race, do they?”

    Correct, all the above happened and the perpetrators followed Christianity but the reason for them committing these acts was not spreading Christianity or a particular form of it.

    The ISIS/Al Qaeda have religion as their basis for committing the acts they do, you cannot expect people not to talk about a religion if that is the reason being cited by some to kill many.

    “To seek clarification on the claims that Harris made, I talked to a prominent Islamic scholar”

    Why did you have to go to a cleric, why can’t you read it for yourself and decide?

    Also, why do you need an Islamic Scholar to defend Islam for the comments made by Harris, does it really matter what Harris thinks of a religion as old and strong as Islam is.

    The Muslim world have genuine issues where in non Muslim parties are involved and the first step would be to not involve religion and deal with the issues on its merit but for that the concerned Muslim countries need to make themselves stronger rather than cutting a sorry face and act victim and then some of them turn to violence on the name of fighting for umma.Recommend

  • SafeNation

    How can it be complete in all aspects if the aspect of liberalism is left out?Recommend

  • Yo2Da2

    You tell it sister!Recommend

  • Yo2Da2

    Bhagvad Gita is about a dialog between Lord Krishna and Arjun It is a deeply philosophic work including ruminations about war and death, about one’s religious duty. You cannot have a non-scholar of Indic religions and civilization – such as the blogger and the Islamic professor she relies on – make accusations based on less than a superficial knowledge. Being familiar with several works on Islam and its holy books, in my opinion this so-called scholar is trying to white-wash his religion, as many have done on this post. While praising this scholar, she demeans Harris by associating him with Fox News. An attempt, I might add, worthy of Fox News itself.Recommend

  • Shaista Ali

    Further, westerners do not drone pursue non-Muslim countries as they do Muslims eg Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Africa etc hence aggressive policies towards Muslims and for its resources will naturally breed terrorism.Recommend

  • SafeNation

    First, I don’t think every Muslim is a terrorist but I do believe most of them do hold extremist views in varying degrees and given an opportunity, a significant percentage will engage in indiscriminate killing of innocent people without any thought, logic or remorse.

    Secondly, you call a few thousand extremists an insignificant number in a 2 billion Muslim population. What’s a few thousand, ISIS alone is more than 15 thousand and growing. That’s just a drop in a bucket. Add the rest of them found in abundance in Pakistan and in every corner of the world, and the numbers will suddenly look significant.

    Christianity has a larger following in the world but how many do you see roaming around plotting and killing innocent people in the name of Christianity? Please understand that Islamic extremists are essentially terrorists because even, as we know extremists are found in other religions, they don’t kill, loot, or force others to convert under the threat of intimidation or violence.Recommend

  • Salim Alvi

    Spirituality needs to be separated from religion, a Roman 4th century construct long after Jesus’s death in SriNagar, India. Written History is always His Story who has paid for it or who wields the sword on writer’s head. Myth of Christianity can be easily debunked: why would an Aramic speaking person write a book which is almost a copy of old Jewish book? Suppose he wrote, then why was he persecuted by Jewish clergy & Roman Tax collectors? The book had nothing which went against Jewish belief. Jesus must be teaching something which went against Jewish clergy’s bread & butter, and Roman tax collection. What could it be? Jesus was teaching individual practices which gave spiritual growth, that made unnecessary to go to synagogues where clergy could extract money from them and Romans taxes. To divide the Jews so that they can be ruled Romans enticed theto create Christianity. Bedouins perfected this Roman technique. Religions created slavery, racism, colonialism and genocide of native people. That is why even Desmond Tutu used to say: Arabs & Angloes came to our land with a book in hand; they asked us to close our eyes to pray; when they finished, we had the book and they had the land with all its resources and our dear ones were being shipped to distant slave bazars of Baghdad, Madina, Rome and Americas. Compare that to how Boudha’s message went to China & Japan. The Chinese and Japanese did not have to lose their native spirituality, adopt alien names, dress code and hate their own ancestors. Slowly but surely religions will disappear and pure spirituality will prevail. Religions were armed legions with dogma to create ready cannon fodder out of new converts who hate themselves, their own culture.Recommend

  • Lefty

    90% violence in Bhagvat Gita? No wonder where you got that number. Yes there is violence but not that much, that scripture is about learning oneself and eternal peace. But we do not need to claim Hinduism is the religion of peace. Its copyrights are with Islam anyways. Violence in Bhagvad Gita is against evil and not againt a specific religion or ones who don’t believe in God.Recommend

  • ak

    @I am a Khan : Well story of Mahabharata is NOT full of
    violence..Rather it’s full of discussion regarding virtues, morals, ethics and
    duty. Even if there is violence we are also taught the result of that. Yes
    there is a concept of dharma, one must go against oppressors but that war is
    not targeted at any group, religious entity etc. Rather that targets people
    based on their karma. SO no, it doesn’t teach violence.

    Second, If really is everyone misinterpreting Islam, a can you give me name of 1country which follows
    it in its entirely and is an ideal place to live in? If you can’t name
    even a single country, then Muslims must look within, why is that? There has to
    be inherently wrong with Islam, that’s why it’s in a mess.

    Islamophobia does have some realistic basis.

    One who can’t look within will never improve. Being a Hindu i am not scared to
    question my belief system if i don’t agree with any aspect of it. Rather i am
    encouraged to question and develop deeper understanding, and not blindly believe

    Please do so and you will see the changeRecommend

  • observer

    “Harris’ knowledge appeared lacking because of its biased subjectivity
    rather than studied objectivity on the subject of Islam, his simplistic
    rambling sounded amateurish and very myopic.”

    Just because Harris points don’t agree with your own, it doesn’t mean he is incorrect, biased or lacks objectivity as you put it. Harris is very well read on Islamic scriptures and speaks from the strength of knowledge. On the contrary, have you ever thought of the possibility that it may be you and your fellow apologists who may be myopic, incorrect, biased and lack objectivity?

    I know it is difficult not to see the religion you are born into without colored glass, but aren’t you interested in seeking the truth?Recommend

  • Dr. Aslam Abdullah?

    Stop blaming everything on “context of the verse”. There are verses which talk about violence. Accept it. It’s OK, to accept the faults. Islam will still be the “best” religion for you.Recommend

  • Kolsat

    Aslam Abdulla may be an Islamic scholar, Tisma, but he is no scholar in Hindu religion. He completely misunderstands what Bhagavadgeeta is all about. It is a text against ritualism and for devotion. So far no Indian has gone on a murdering spree as the IS, Taliban, Boko Haram et al have using the Bhagavadgeeta as his/her justification as these terrorists have gone using Koran. Old testament may have condoned violence but currently Christians do not whereas Muslims do.Recommend

  • Raman

    I find it rather amusing that the author quotes Mr Abdullah to indicate that even Hindu texts advocate violence. Clearly, she’s never read the book and frankly, it’s lazy to wrongly quote someone just to prove the point that all religions advocate violence. This is lesson 101 in writing classes! The entirety of the Bhagavad Gita is about doing one’s dharma, working towards one’s karma, to unite the internal Godhead to the supreme Godhead (Brahman) through different kinds of Yoga. For example, imagine that Pakistan is at the brink of invasion by the Taliban and the top military general gets cold feet only because the leader of the Taliban is his own son. What would the general do? The story of the Bhagavad Gita is based pretty much on this scenario and using this sort of scenario as an example, God reveals ideas of karma, dharma, Atma, Parmatma. There is no mention of one race being superior than the other, who to kill, what to kill, how to rule etc etc. The central thesis of the Gita, if you will, is to focus on doing your assigned duty and act without thinking about the fruits of your action/karma. Only someone who hasn’t read the Gita would make such sweeping generalisations about the text. I’d urge her to casually read through the Bhagavad Gita….If you read it as a non religious text, you’d find it to be a beautiful metaphysical document that has wide universal appeal.Recommend

  • marik

    That ‘scholar’ is lying about sex slavery. A Muslim is allowed to do anything with his kaneez. Its not just the Turkish or Mughal empires, look at the earliest muslims.Recommend

  • marik

    “We then must retire ninety percent of the Bhagavad Gita, the Hindu scriptures that advocate violence, seventy percent of the Old Testament that condones violence and lays the principle of an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth or stoning to death.””
    TBH that is what the atheists want, the abolishing of organized religion so that humanity can move forwardRecommend

  • LS

    Even if it does not make any sense?Recommend

  • observer

    ““We then must retire ninety percent of the Bhagavad Gita, the Hindu scriptures that advocate violence,”

    Why stop at 90%? Why not say 100%?

    First, Bhagavat Geeta has the theater setting of a war between the bad guys and the good guys and part of the great epic Mahabharatha. Mahabharatha itself is not a scripture. It is just a story where Lord Krishna teaches the good guy Arjuna the truths about selflessness, selfless action, adhering to righteousness and the duty to uphold justice.

    The fundamental scriptures of Hinduism are the Vedas and the Vedanda (Upanishads). Vedanta/ Upanishads are the ultimate essence of all the vedas and as such has the highest authority.

    This character Aslam Abdullah has decided without obviously reading and researching the Vedas, Vedantas and Mahabharatha, that 90% of Geeta advocates violence.Recommend

  • observer

    “Talking on the issue of sex slaves and concubines, Dr Aslam Abdullah opines,….”

    Taking women captured in wars as concubines and sex slaves is allowed in Islamic scriptures. Reference:Quran – 70:22-30, 23:5,6, 4:24, 33:50), Sahih Bukhari – Volume 3, #432, Volume 9, #506, Volume 5, #637, Sahih Muslim, Volume 2, #3371, (Sahih Al-Bukhari, Volume 5, Book 59, Number 522, Volume 1, Book 8, Number 367. The last one talks about Safiyah the captured Jewish girl.Recommend

  • Sumone

    I second you! If apostasy is such a big crime why Islam encourages non-muslims to become muslim? would anyone considering this that he would get killed if he backtracked would accept Islam? i wonder how!Recommend

  • Sardar Zaheer

    BB no religion can be wrong its people who uses it or exploit it to achieve their interests or objectives…adapting any religion is a matter of choice or some or born adapter because of their parents…person me i am born Muslim but when i was able to think at my own i started reading other religion as well and the more i read about other religion the more my faith got stronger on Islam. So i would ask all human being to at least study each other beliefs and religion to extend that it would give u an opportunity to co exist and show respect for other religion as every follower every of religion has more tendency to be a good human being…by saying this i am excluding people who preach religion with an intention to exploit it by using illiterate peopleRecommend

  • Sumone

    Pakistan is suffocating with extreme religious intolerance and people around world are bound to think that Bill Maher and Sam Harris are somewhat right. Recently, Asia Bibi’s appeal to death sentence denied. But i remember Judiciary had considered Mumtaz Qadri’s appeal against same verdict, a murderer who killed Salman Taseer over NOT supporting blasphemous law. May I question apostasy and blasphemy laws in this country, or will i be murdered too?

    This is a country where Youtube is banned on keeping blasphemous content, but country remain silent over daily news of acid victims, gang rapes of child girls, odd customs, someone murdered in the name of Allah, either by TTP terrorists, or ordered by Jirga, panchayats, and they are not get tuned by law enforcement, why? Is youtube is a bigger crime than killing someone?

    BUT I still believe Its not fault of Islam but how we have manipulated its laws.Recommend

  • Hammurabi

    How many Muslims agree with Dr Aslam Abdullah’s views?Every opne has his/her own interpretations to justify their views.Some of the comments on this blog advocate literal interpretation of scriptures e.g kill infidels.and so on.Recommend

  • Prakohale

    wow!!! so in order to defend Islam Bisma Tirmizi and Dr Aslam Abdullah lied about Bhagwat Geeta, Great!
    such a shame that so called (self Declared) prominent Islamic scholar comments irresponsibly about other religion without learning about them!!Recommend

  • prakohale

    you failed to understand what he is saying, Hinduism is not limited to book, time to time saints and Avtaar (like Prophet in your religion) teaches the way of life to Hindu.
    in Hinduism all works towards attain Moksha (liberation from the cycle of death and rebirth) and there are many ways to achieve it, Hinduism allows person to worship one god, many god or even to be a atheist, Hinduism is all about doing good deeds (karma) and fulfilling duty (dharma).

    so unlike Islam in which people are bound to follow Quran, Hinduism offers freedom to everyone.

    so don’t show your ignorance by comparing two religion.Recommend

  • Hammurabi

    Which of the early religious authorities in early Islamic era i.e. the Imams had interpreted the verses mentioned by sam harris as spelled out by the blogger or Dr aslam?Recommend

  • ab1990

    I really want the names of hindu terrorists your country has caught till now.Recommend

  • Muhammad Ahsan Lakhani

    Because they Don’t Follow Muhammad (Salal laho alaihe wasalam) completely. Islam is complete but your question is valid muslims are incomplete, because they don’t follow Quran and Sunnah. . .Recommend

  • Hammurabi

    The statement of Dr Aslam on historical context of verses is questionable.When one follows a Law or rules, one goes by the contents of Law or rule written in book.Historical context can be different for different interpreters.Recommend

  • “Neo-Atheist”

    This piece is filled with so many errors and inaccuracies, I don’t know where to begin. The part of Aslam Abdullah about concubines is a historical misrepresentation. A rebuttal would probably not be posted.Recommend

  • “Neo-Atheist”

    Let’s just say ISIS/IS is probably more true to the history of Islam than many Muslims would acknowledge.Recommend

  • Gurion

    >Harris made the pivotal mistake of singling Quranic verses out of their historical context, a mistake that extremists also commit

    If Quran is the final word of god till eternity, then its words should be applicable in all times and places.Recommend

  • truthseeker

    My comment has been edited beyond recognition, Why? I said nothing offensive ( I know Muslims are easily offended) Truth may hurt only, ignorance kills.Recommend

  • lols

    ignorance, stupidity and brainwash….. are in actionRecommend

  • Suraj


    Does your law permit a muslim woman to marry Hindu Male . India permits marriage between two adults irrespective of religion and caste .
    Do Shia’s and Sunni share mosque in PakistanRecommend

  • I am a Khan

    The Quran is Crystal Clear but many muslims of today do not follow it. Most ‘islamic terrorists’ (be it the fighters in North Waziristan, Iraq or Syria) never even use the name of islam. They clearly say they are fighting for the revenge of their families killed by the decade long war of USA post 9/11. Its the western media that gives the terrorists an islamic colour just because they are muslims, whereas in reality its about revenge for their destruction post 9/11. If india and hindu majority areas had been bombarded for more than a decade by western powers, you would also have hindu terrorists fighting for revenge and if the western media then called them terrorists because they followed hinduism, that would be grossly unfair. thats what is happening.Recommend

  • Reddy

    why is ET moderator censoring my comment. when i am directly quoting from your quran and hadith.are you ashamed of it,let the others factually take on my point,
    this is what i said,let them provide the counter argument,you don’t even wanna listen to what is written quran and sunna ,yet you have a gall to say it’s religion of peace,how absurd is that

    “unlike muslims, hindus do not have a moral code book like quran or hadith on how to live one’s life,how many wives to have,how should one grow his beard,what to wear or stupefying science facts like mountains act as pillars on earth to support the falling sky or how the entire world was created in six day from the clay…moreover hindus aren’t mind numbing not to differentiate between battle field and the real world,they didn’t see the the world in that POV in 12000 yrs(dwaraka civilization),if they did you and your clan wouldn’t be existing today as our neighbors.”Recommend

  • I am a Khan

    You see, Islam is from God. Its divine. The moment you start to doubt and question your belief system, it means you have mentally accepted that your religion/belief system is man made and hence it can be questioned, changed, etc. If anyone feels that their religion is man made, then why do they even follow it? The real/true religion has to be from God. and what is from God cannot be questioned and/or changed by humans. Thats Islam to us muslims.Recommend

  • hp kumar

    Ramal and Laxmi ,both indian agents caught by Shaan sahid and Ayesha khan in northwestern tribal region after a brief anti terror operation called waar ..You should have known this fact by 16th oct ,2013 itself :-)Recommend

  • hp kumar

    And you feel necessity to prove it..Leave it..we dont have to do that..I have seen several times pakistanis hypocrotical rant about India is this ,India is that bla bla..World now should understand that we r a mature country ..Indians donot need anybody’s suggestion for how should we run our country.We believe that conduct of those kashmiri students were unethical for which they were reprimanded..If they will do same again,reaction will be no different to make it very clear..Recommend

  • Jor El

    “I think the author meant the story of mahabharat, which is full of violence/war (but its war conducted to end oppression)”
    Out of the 18 parvas(sections) of the mahabharata, 5 parvas talk about/describe the war, not the whole 18.
    Coming to the bhagavad gita, yes it advocates violence(no denying this), but it is not a violent book as it talks in great detail about spirituality n human duties.
    When u say “Secondly I accept that nowadays, Islam and muslims are two separate things.” would the people who u say are doing these things accept that they r unislamic acts ?
    I am not citicising islam, i have nothing for or against it, but if the majority of the muslim population feels that a minority is distorting islam, then what steps are being taken by the majority against this.Recommend