Tuesday, July 24, 2007

What secularists go wrong about Islam

Taner Edis has an interesting article on the Council for Secular Humanism website.

secular humanists have not been entirely clear-eyed about Islam. While supporting critical inquiry, many secularists have also been partial to simplistic representations of the Muslim world. Indeed, some popular secular literature opposing Islam is hardly distinguishable from Christian and neoconservative polemics. Secularists have been too eager to seek immediate doctrinal causes for Muslim problems. In doing so, many critics have been tempted to identify an essential “true Islam” that is antagonistic to reason and liberal values.
Here's the conclusion

Those of us who do not accept revelation, however, need not go in search of an idealized, true Islam. We should give up those habits of thought that prompt us to seek a well-defined true faith, now to condemn as barbaric rather than to endorse as divine. Religion is a human activity, and what deserve our attention are the varieties of faith revealed in actual practice.

Secular humanists have been very supportive of science and critiques of Islam; they have stood up for freedom of inquiry. And as a godless infidel, a scientist, and a critic of Islam, I am grateful for this support. But we secularists also have our blind spots, our episodes of intellectual laziness. Accepting the framework of a “true Islam” is one such mistake. We can do better.

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