Friday, 19 October 2012

Islam: The Untold Story


 Islam: The Untold Story

Blasphemy is a Medieval Idea – Religion is a Belief System we are entitled to criticise 

That there are racists from Nick Griffin to the latest Islam: Innocence of Islam who attack a religion as a means of attacking its adherents is undeniable.  But the right to criticise religion – whatever religion it is – to question and criticise ifs belief system – is another matter altogether.  Of course I have no way of knowing whether the argument of Tom Holland is true or not.  That is an entirely different matter but it is certainly one that should be debated.

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For hundreds of years Blasphemy in the United Kingdom was a crime.  The last conviction was of Gay News for Blasphemous Libel, for portraying Jesus as Gay!  Alan King Hamiltion, the idiot judge in that trial, held that Homosexuality had been responsible for the Fall of the Roman Empire!
Israel Shahak, the noted Israeli and Jewish scholar wrote Jewish History – Jewish Religion & Jewish Fundamentalism in Israel, 2 books which debunked many myths about the Jewish religion, including its claim to monotheism.  Of course they produced outrage for telling secrets such as the ban on saving non-Jewish life on the Sabbath (unless it placed Jewish lives at risk).

So why should Islam remain immune?  Under the banner of Islam corrupt and brutal regimes like that in Iran have murdered thousands of people and presided over a State of Corruption.  They have a vested interest in not tolerating criticism.  Salafist Groups, which believe that Shi’ite Islam is an apostasy and who seek to create sectarian conflict with fellow Muslims, also don’t like their belief system held up to scrutiny.
So it is no surprise that Tom Holland’s Islam -  The Untold Story met with criticism and threats from bigots who prefer to deal with criticism not with reason – a concept unknown to them – but with crude threats of violence.  It is no surprise that Channel 4 bowed before these threats and cancelled a second showing of the film. 
However the film is on U-Tube (though embedding has been disabled) and I’m happy to carry a link to the film.


  1. Tony, with respect I think it is more complex than you make out when you say, "why should Islam remain immune" to criticism. In fact, if you read the history of diverse Islamic philosophers and poets ( see AnneMarie Schimell's work), it is clear that Islam has indeed,already been repeatedly scrutinised and challenged to 'justify its tenets' and has been tested, very closely, sometimes very dramatically and shockingly and controversially over the centuries.

    In Iran, Turkey, Iraq and Syria, these analyses have been taken seriously, and debated with precision and rigour and intellectual honesty and incredible clarity, for hundreds and hundreds of years, by scholars, saints, mystics, meditators, kings and laymen,poets, artists and merchants.

    However,in comparison, the recent 'challenges' to Islam are amateur, and lack any true depth, and -- often enough -- are clearly the acts of agent provocateurs, going out of their way to trample on spirituality -- that is what irritates many Muslims and non Muslims. Much of the post industrial world is, to use religious terminology, profane -- Islam holds the sacred as the highest value. They are fully aware that agent provocateurs use their knowledge of that sacred and profane dichotomy against them in the most devious of ways, relentlessly.

    Whether you or I believe in such categories or prisms as 'the sacred' and 'the profane' or see them as absurd nonsense, is irrelevant, because to Muslims, whatever naysayers, think or do, that separation will always be real. If Muslims did not see it as real, then they would no longer be Muslims. For Muslims, there is no way around that understanding -- if, indeed, they are to remain Muslims .

    I will watch the programme -- I haven't seen it yet. However, for much more rigorous and disciplined, scholarly and serious study of Islam, I'd strongly advise you to read and research Annemarie Schimmel, Martin Lings and Seyyed Hosein Nasr, and to a lesser extent, Reza Shah Kazemi and William Chittick. All of these are serious thinkers who have closely analysed Islam, and the sects that crossed over into each other in Iran, Iraq, Baku, Syria, Palestine,North Africa, etc, drawing influence from the mysticism of Islam, Judaism, a myriad of Gnostic sects, and Christianity.

    The main problem with the likes of Dawkins , Tom Holland and many other current popular critics of Islam is that they are so very lightweight and shallow.

    I respect your knowledge enough from the quality of what you always write on your blog, to expect you will not dismiss the vast and deep and very very diverse history of Islam in a like shallow manner.

  2. Joe, I shoujld have made it clear that what I refer to Islam is present day theology and its interpretation of the past. In essence western colonisation has frozen the development of Islamic theology and built the fundamentalists. Hence the lack of an equivalent to the Reformation. Islam reflects the society arounds it just as in any other society.

    In Bosnia and Albania Islam has developed in different directions because of the different political conditions.

    Whether Holland is right or not I know but I am opposed to attempts to shut him up, that is all. Just as Shlomo Sand produced apoplexy amongst the Zionists for his book on the myth of a Jewish nation.

    I don't at all dismiss the history of Islam. In many ways it is Political Islam today which reduces Islam to its fundamentalist and literal interpretation, much as the Christian fundamentalists and Zionists of the US do.

    I haven't time to explore this topic in depth because I wish to devote my time to Zionism and exposing it for what it is!

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