Friday, September 6, 2013

On Discussing Islam

Yesterday I sent the following two tweets:

They got 41 retweets and 21 favourites from my Muslim friends and followers, and I found some really interesting new people to follow as a result. That said, I did come in for a bit of flack from my non Muslim followers for these comments, and I felt a blog post was the best format to try to best address the criticisms raised. If I offended you, please take the hour this blog was posted as a symbol of my genuine desire to understand your position and better communicate mine. I'll group the tweets by what I feel was their focus and do my best to summarise the point - I don't think there's much to be gained by adding the authors, but if you'd prefer your tweet credited do let me know and I'll be happy to add it.

Naturally, I welcome comments and discussion below.

Criticism 1: It would be inappropriate to compliment a feminist on maintaining composure and dignity when threatened as this suggests someone who loses composure or displays anger is less of a feminist.
""Feminists who handle threats with grace instead of anger represent feminism well." Sound problematic? Because it does to me. I don't handle threats with grace nor do I think I should be expected to. Nor do I think that my lack of patience with those who threaten me makes either women or feminists look back. [bad?] I'd be v uncomfortable to be told I was a 'credit' to feminism/women because I handled something without anger." 
What can I say? I agree. I don't think less of Caroline Criado-Perez for swearing at people after months of death and rape threats. I just don't feel it's a particularly apt comparison. The Ahmadi Muslims represent a reformist movement within Islam that, for over a century, has embodied their motto of "Love For All Hatred For None". It would be wrong to call them pacifists - many in their community have distinguished themselves in their countries' militaries - but nonretaliation is at the core of their beliefs. When a spiritual leader was stabbed in the neck while at prayer in his mosque, his final instruction before losing consciousness was that the assassin not be harmed. The attacker was jailed, and the Ahmadiyya Muslim community voluntarily paid a stipend to to the wife and children of the would be killer rather than see them destitute.