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Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Andrew Brown on "Response to A GUIDE TO REFUTING JIHADISM"

Andrew Brown of the Guardian has commented on my response to A Guide to Refuting Jihadism, which was published first on Lapido Media and then in fuller form on this blog.

Brown writes:
Can you dissuade fanatical jihadis using theological argument?
by Andrew Brown (as revised on Feb 10, 2014)
It doesn't really matter whether the fundamentalists are right about the nature of Islam – it's loyalties and peer pressure that drive them.

How much of what jihadis do is religiously motivated? At one extreme are those who claim their beliefs are entirely explained by oppression and reaction to social circumstances; at the other is the view that the Qur'an is a kind of brain parasite, compelling its victims to slaughter. This latter view is still quite popular on the fringes of the right. I'd like to think the view that religion doesn't matter at all has been abandoned entirely but there is bound to be some groupuscule or cult that still clings to it.

More sophisticated versions of the argument continue, though, and there was a fascinating outbreak this week when the Henry Jackson Society published a pamphlet organised by a former jihadi giving theological reasons why jihadi violence is as unjustified as terrorism, and a counterblast saying this would persuade no one, as Muhammad himself had clearly done indiscriminately violent things and the fanatics we are dealing with use only the text of the Qur'an.

Both sides in this dispute know what they are talking about. The Henry Jackson pamphlet comes with a foreword by the remarkable Usama Hasan, who himself fought in Afghanistan in the 1990s; the Christian counterblast comes from an experienced watcher of the jihadi scene.

Read the full article at:

1 comment:

  1. Have now read Andrew Brown's full article as well as Dr Mark Durie's "Response to A GUIDE TO REFUTING JIHADISM".

    Andrew Brown's test is: "Respectable theological argument would not have changed the minds of the men who killed Lee Rigby."

    This is asserted but not backed by evidence -- either direct or indirect.

    Maybe it's true. Maybe it's not.

    How does Andrew Brown know? He doesn't even offer a "respectable" argument to back up his assertion. Merely, I suppose, a "respectable" assertion.

    I can agree that a merely "respectable" theological argument may not change someone's mind.

    If there are two arguments coming at me, they may both be "respectable". But which one is persuasive? How do I choose between them? The Truest, most genuine, most authentic, most consistent argument will win.

    Andrew Brown concludes: "What matters .... are loyalties and peer pressures."

    It can't be denied that such things "matter".
    i.e. make a difference, have an influence.

    But what is the source of their influence if not true ideas and the inspiring examples of individuals who live by true ideas?

    What is it that influences the influences? What is it that makes them influential?

    Which brings us back to Theology, doesn't it?

    Or even more fundamentally: Every individual's pursuit of Truth and Right. Or at least, every individual's admiration for those who have the courage and commitment to pursue Truth and Right.

    As for "A Guide to Refuting Islam" it springs intellectual and theological leaks from its opening lines.

    Eg: "modern terrorism is a blatant subversion of the ethical imperative and spirit that has always animated Islam."

    "always"? Really?

    Eg: "Islamist extremism often ignores the recent, global development of these notions, e.g. the Geneva Conventions and
    other international agreements regarding warfare."

    That's ridiculous. Putting aside the common and meaningless use of the term "extremism", Jihadists don't "ignore" these so-called "agreements" and "conventions" out of some sort of ignorance. They explicitly and thoroughly reject them and refute them.

    And why would a religion that considers itself the ultimate truth and power subordinate its ideals or water down its beliefs or its destiny to appease the concoctions of infidels -- or any man-made instrument?

    Its discussion of "Reconquista" is not at all re-assuring or at all convincing.

    The section titled "Jihad is not to fight against disbelief" it states: "As long as Muslims have the freedom to express their religious beliefs, Sunni jurisprudence does not permit them to start conflicts."

    One problem is that the freedom of Muslims to express their religious beliefs goes hand-in-hand with the freedom of others to mock those beliefs, challenge those beliefs, and/or to convert Muslims away from Islam.

    Finally, many of the seemingly nice Islamic quotes presented in this text are contradicted and/or abrogated by other Islamic quotes or taken out of context.


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