People have a right to live under whatever delusion they choose so long as they fulfil their obligations to the remainder of the biosphere; but the increasing lack of tolerance being demonstrated by many Muslims around the world in recent years is very worrying.
The problem is not limited to a sub-set of intolerant Muslims, or to a number of increasingly fundamentalist governments, but is written into Islam's holiest book. Islam's attitude to art, one of humanity's most noble pursuits, is particularly concerning.
I hope that this page might make some people who are considering taking up Islam have second thoughts and that it might give some who are thinking of leaving Islam some encouragement to do so.
To accept Islam is, in effect, to join the Christian fundamentalists and refuse to accept the scientific fact of organic evolution. Muslims are obliged to ignore science if it contradicts Islamic teaching. Islam despises much of the art that most of us hold dear. Of course many Muslims value science and art; but by doing so they are neglecting their Islamic obligations.
I should stress at this point that I have no doubt that the great majority of Muslims are decent people.
Islam is designed to dominate the lives of Muslims – consider the requirement to pray five times a day. Muslims are the greatest victims of Islam; they have been conned into devoting their lives to a fantasy. I cannot stress too much that Islam is the problem, Muslims are the primary victims.
If a religion can be interpreted as Islam is interpreted by so many extremist groups around the world in the early twenty-first century surely it must be fundamentally flawed. Or is it just shamefully misinterpreted, as was Christianity in the centuries when heretics were burned at the stake or disposed of in other ways?
This page created 2006/08/09, last edited 2023/04/07
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What will happen to our work in fostering cultural diversity and freedom of expression if it results in a group of intolerant religious fundamentalists coming to power and forcing everyone to live by their prejudices? (Karl Popper called this problem the paradox of democracy.)
The justified concern about a religion that contains as much cruelty and intolerance as does Islam is very different to the racism and xenophobia with which it is often naïvely confused. The fact that most Muslims are very nice people and do not practice or advocate the nasty bits of Islam (such as cutting of the hand of a thief, Koran, 5.38) is to a large extent irrelevant; this page is more about Islam itself, and some of the discriminatory and cruel cultural practices that come with Islam, than it is about Muslims.
I live in a predominantly and traditionally Christian nation. If the Christian delusion was on the rise like Islam, it would be a similar threat to a rational society; fortunately it is moribund except for some weird sects; they will come and go.
While the original form of Christianity, as taught by Jesus, seems to have been tolerant and relatively benevolent, its practice became very corrupt and cruel; consider the empire-building of some of the Popes, the selling of indulgences and bishoprics, the burnings and torturing of heretics (one man's heretic is another man's true believer), and the bloody wars of the Reformation. On the other hand, the original form of Islam was cruel, intolerant and hateful, consider amputation as punishments for theft, stoning as punishment for adultery, and execution as punishment for apostasy. It may or may not be that these were adopted into Islam from the Old Testament, but the fact remains that they were accepted by Islam. Over the centuries most Muslim communities tempered the cruelty of the original Islam.
With all the resource and environmental threats facing the world at present there is a greater than ever need for rational government, but this becomes less likely in any nations dominated by a dogmatic religious group or groups, perhaps Muslims more than others.
Some Muslims would have us believe that it is only a few pockets of fundamentalists (takfeeris?) in Afghanistan and Pakistan that are the problem. That this is not the case was shown by the riots that broke out in many countries following a Danish newspaper publishing cartoons featuring Mohammed a few years ago. If the problem were confined to a minority of people espousing a warped view of Islam, then why do we hear so few main-stream Muslims criticising the extremists and the embassy burners?
What to do about the threat? Violence is not any part of the answer. Perhaps the current rise of fundamentalist Islam will prove to be a temporary thing, perhaps Western Muslims will prove to be more tolerant and open minded than their Middle Eastern brethren? Education must be a part of the answer, but with so much entrenched and irrational Christian belief and acceptance of superstitious nonsense in most Western nations, trying to establish a fully rational education system for Muslims will be a challenge.
They are told they must not question Islam; consider how much confusion, doubt and guilt this must lead to. If a Muslim does not understand something about Islam he would feel that he is committing a sin if he asks someone a question that has some appearance of doubting the truth of Islamic teaching. Even worse is in any way criticising Islam; not only is this seen as a terrible sin, but in some Islam-dominated countries, it is a very serious criminal offence. (Is this why so few Muslims are willing to criticise Islamic terrorists and embassy burners?)
Islam teaches that Allah created everything including Man; so they are not free to accept the truth of that great pillar of science that is organic evolution. Indeed, any science that can be interpreted as contradicting the Koran must be disregarded.
If they are to follow Islam faithfully they must not either produce or indulge in art that depicts any living thing. They must not drink anything alcoholic, nor eat pork or bacon.
Above all, a Muslim believes that if he gives up his religion he risks eternal torment in the next world, and he knows that Muslims in the real world will feel justified by religious law in killing him as punishment for his apostate state.
Islam forbids Muslims to use alcohol and Indonesian Muslims in positions of power have made some attempts to ban alcohol, even in Bali. The Balinese are predominantly Hindu and have no prohibition of alcohol; most of the tourists who visit Bali are non-Muslim. Of course the Balinese (Hindu and others) are financially suffering from the downturn in tourism caused first several years ago by Islamic terrorist bombings and now by the reduction in availability of alcohol.
Some Muslim nations consider changing from Islam to another religion a capital crime. I believe the Koran says that anyone who changes from Islam should be killed.
The recent burning of embassies following the publishing of cartoons depicting Mohammed in the Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten is an example of Muslims attempting to force their prejudices on the whole world. Freedom of the press is an aspect of freedom of speech. (Interestingly, depicting Mohammed in publications has been quite acceptable in a number of Muslim nations in past times; religious dogma, like so many things, evolves.)
Where women have to follow the stricter version of the Muslim dress code they have very limited participation in sports. Consider, for example, how a woman in a burka would go in a swimming race!
Nonie Darwish, in Cruel and Usual Punishment, a critique of Sharia, listed the following quotes from the Hadiths (Muslim records of the life of The Prophet) regarding the Islamic view of women:
With the spread of Islam to parts of the world with less sunshine than the traditionally Muslim counties, and the apparent trend toward total body covering by Muslim women, vitamin D deficiency problems will increase. The woman in the photo above would be at high risk of vitamin D deficiency-related diseases even in tropical countries if she always dresses like that when in the open.
One wonders how many other of the laws in Sharia were made for Mohammed's personal convenience.
Early in the period when Mohammed was establishing Islam he was friendly with Jewish tribes, forging alliances with the Jewish tribes of Medina and even instructing his followers to prey facing Jerusalem. It was only later, when the Jews refused to take up Islam, that he turned against the Jews. For a man who was supposedly taking instructions from an infallible god, this seems a remarkable about-face.
It is largely for the reason that Muslims hold that Mohammed was of exemplary character that Muslim nations have found it difficult to pass laws making the age of consent as high as sixteen; which is common in Western Nations. For a Muslim nation to make sex with a girl under sixteen a criminal offence would be to say that Mohammed was a child abuser and a criminal.
The Koran itself orders Muslims to never ask questions: "O ye who believe! Ask not questions about things which if made plain to you, may cause you trouble... Some people before you did ask such questions, and on that account lost their faith." (Koran 5:101-102) Remember that for a Muslim to loose his/her faith is to deserve being punished by death, but how could anyone expect to learn about Islam, or anything else, without asking questions?
Perhaps this is why we hear so few Muslim voices raised against Muslim acts of terrorism and the embassy burnings following the Mohammed cartoon affair.
climate change is a threat to the beautiful creations of nature.
It is not only the visual arts that are put at risk by the rise of Islam, the performing arts are held to be questionable, even despised and banned by some Islamic regimes. Quoting from Wikipedia:
"The relationship between Islam and music has long been a complex and controversial matter. Many Muslims believe that the Quran and Sunnah prohibit music (instruments and singing); however other Muslims disagree and believe that some forms of music are permitted."Note: "some forms of music".
Many people, myself included, would consider art as one of the greatest of the modern world's cultural heritages; after science, perhaps the best and most noble aspect of modern civilisation is the body of art that has been built up over the last few thousand years; consider the music of Handel, Bach and Beethoven. All of this would be put at risk if Islam ever came to dominate world culture. Consider what would become of the wonderful art of Western nations should intolerant Muslims such as those of Taliban Afghanistan ever come to power.
It is worth noting here that Christianity has had periods when 'profane' art was unacceptable and even actively destroyed, however, I know of no religion as intolerant of artistic expression as is Islam.
"The Hour Resurrection will not take place until the Muslims fight the Jews, and kill them. And the Jews will hide behind the rock and tree, and the rock and tree will say: oh Muslim, oh servant of Allah, this is a Jew behind me, come and kill him!"
The duty of Muslim men toward non-Muslims (from Cruel and Usual Punishment quoting the Koran – different translations of the Koran differ somewhat):
Also see Appenix A.
The life of a non-Muslim is worth much less than the life of a Muslim and women are worth only half as much as men(From Cruel and Usual Punishment). "If a person has been killed or caused to die by another, the latter has to pay blood money or compensation, as follows:
Other religions must be kept out of Islamic nations, Islam must be forced on other peoplesCruel and Usual Punishments lists the duties of a caliph (Muslim leader of a Muslim nation):
It also should be said that the Christian delusion – the primary religion of Western nations – has a long history of a lack of tolerance for, not only atheism and other religions, but anyone who wanted to stray a little from main-stream Christianity.
Islam is certainly not the only religion that has at least gone through phases of shocking intolerance, neither is it universally intolerant today.
However, even Hamas, who are more extreme than the Fata group whom they replaced, are not 'Islamic' enough for a new group, the 'Soldiers of God' or 'Warriors of God'.
Surely more main-stream Muslims must be seeing that this, and the corrupt Islamic republic of Iran, are demonstrating that a state run on 'Islamic principles' is unworkable? I am hopeful of a gradual reaction against extremist Islam and a return to something closer to rationality in the Islamic nations.
The rigged Iranian election of 2009 demonstrated the corruption that arrises in such a contradictory situation. The ruling clerics wanted both to make the state look democratic to the people and to the outside world and yet to have the party they favoured 'elected' to government.
In August 2009 we heard claims that those who demonstrated in objection to the rigged election and later 'died in custody' were actually tortured to death. An Islamic state is, almost by definition, barbaric, because it is based on laws that date back to a barbaric period in the history of Arabia.
Need for researchIs there a statistical link between the dominance of Islam in a nation and its economic weakness? Does the dominance of Islam in a nation correspond to low rates of economic growth? I don't know.
If there is a statistical link between Islam and either weak or slow growth in a nation's economy, then we need to ask why?
The suppression of women's rights would seem to be a likely factor. How can any nation achieve its full potential while keeping half its population as virtual slaves and in ignorance?
If a nation concentrates on giving children an Islamic education rather than a free-thinking education strong in science then cultural and economic growth are likely to suffer. (Just as education in the USA is suffering where education is based on Christian fundamentalism rather than free and critical thinking.)
Also see below; Does Islam or Sharia make a state more likely to fail?
Does Islam export misery?
Nine of the twenty countries listed have Muslim majorities (four of the five most likely to fail), seven others have significant Muslim minorities. Twelve of the most unstable 13 have at least a significant Muslim minority. Of course this does not prove that Islam is the problem, but it is suggestive. (Is Robert Magarbi as much a liability to Zimbabwe as Islam is to the other nations on the list?)
Many European nations have minorities made up of Muslims who largely arrived as refugees, or whose parents or grand parents were refugees. At least some in these Muslim minority peoples are now pressing their adopted countries for the right to live under Sharia. Many, it seems, are opposed to the free speech that is traditional in their countries of residence, as demonstrated by the Mohammed Cartoon affair.
Of great concern to the ethnic Europeans of course, is that if the Muslims ever obtain the political ascendency (and demographically it seems that they will eventually do so, as their fertility rate is much higher than that of the ethnic Europeans) they, the Muslims, will impose Sharia on all residents.
It seems like life under Sharia in the countries of origin has made the people miserable enough to seek refuge in non-Muslim counties, and then the Islamic delusion has influenced the later generations – who didn't experience the misery of actually living under Sharia in the countries of origin – to again take up the cause of the misery.
Is Islam and Sharia spreading like a pandemic?
As I write this section (mid June 2009) Iranian refugees living in Australia are marching in sympathy to the Iranians protesting in the home-land over the recent and apparently rigged election there. The TV coverage of the Australian marches shows women wearing the traditional Muslim head covering – labelling them as members of the same religion that is the cause of the problems in Iran!
This seems remarkably intolerant and simply ignorant. Apparently the Muslims concerned do not realise that the God of the Christians is their God. In Arab nations Christian call their god Allah; Allah simply means God.
The main difference between Islam and Christianity is that in addition to Jesus and the prophets of the Old Testament, Muslims believe that the last and principal prophet was Mohamed. The God of Jews, Christians and Muslims is the same; the differences between the religions are in the other bits.
Of great concern to non-Muslims must be the sentencing of the Christian governor of Jakarta to two years jail for blasphemy. His specific crime: he said that clerics had used a Koranic verse to mislead voters by telling them that Muslims were not allowed to vote for a Christian.
This is clearly a miscarriage of justice motivated by religiously-based xenophobia.
The table below shows the results from three of what I feel are the more revealing questions of the total of 20 used in the interviews.
|Level of agreement
|Islamic laws about apostasy should be strictly enforced in Muslim countries
|Strict enforcement of punishment under Islamic law such as amputation of limbs for theft will significantly reduce crime
|If men are not in charge of women, women will lose sight of all human values and the family will disintegrate
As mentioned elsewhere, apostasy is punishable by death under Islam. (See "Apostates should be killed", a section on this page, and Appendix A, also on this page, quoted from Islam Questions and Answer, on the Internet.)
Surely we have a duty to protect the planet for the sake of future generations, including our children and grand-children.
Islam distracts Muslims from the threats that are damaging the real world.
It imposes many distractions on them, causing them to waste their time when
any sane world-view would encourage them to use it to help protect our shared
Muslims subject non-Muslims to this five times a day, every day; starting in the early morning and finishing around sun-set.
While these laws date from the Christian Old Testament, which is the Jewish Torah (or is it Talmud?), no predominantly Christian or Jewish nations would remotely consider bringing them into their modern legal systems.
What is it specifically about Islam that can cause people to behave in terribly cruel ways?
The characteristics and beliefs of Islamic fundamentalism include the following:I can recommend Barry's book. It is an excellent critique of how the modern world is moving away from Enlightenment in many ways, religious fundamentalism being only one of them.
- an insistence on rule by theocracy and the inerrancy of scripture;
- dogmatism and inability to comprehend differing points of view;
- hostility to science and scientific method;
- belief in miracles;
- belief that the creation of the Earth was relatively recent, humans have not changed since their creation, and the theory of evolution is wrong;
- rejection of evidence-based decision-making;
- hostility to modernity;
- resistance to feminism and the changing roles of women;
- hierarchy and paternalism;
- self-definition as 'fighters', and cultivation of a siege mentality;
- constant need to have enemies, to provided the rationale for forceful action;
- dismissal of United Nations and international opinion, including disregard for UNESCO World Heritage sites;
- suppression of dissent, including punishing critics or whistleblowers;
- readiness to act outside the rule of law, and to assume that 'the end justifies the means';
- assertion of simple explanations for complex problems; and
- deep suspicion of 'the Other'.
The Global Economy gives a different ranking to that of World Population Review for human rights, again, worst on top:
Also see Wikipedia, Human rights in Muslim-majority countries.
A somewhat related article was published in Global Issues, by Karlos Zurutuza (Hamburg, Germany); Friday, April 07, 2023; Inter Press Service. It was titled "Journalists in Balochistan: Keep Quiet or Die". Balochistan (or Baluchistan) was forcibly annexed by Pakistan in 1948.
delusions. This planet is facing huge problems, what is needed is clear and rational thinking, not thought processes constrained by religions based on the writings of deluded people who lived many centuries ago when the world was a very different place.
Modern Islam is of particular concern because it is becoming increasingly intolerant and its practitioners more numerous, especially in the West, and of particular concern to me, in my country, Australia.
The Koran, similarly to the Christian New Testament, was not written down when Mohammed dictated it. It was passed on from person to person by word of mouth for several generations before being written down. Anyone who has played the game 'Chinese whispers' knows how quickly errors will creep into even short messages entrusted to people's memories. To say that the Koran is God's word requires a greater than average 'leap of faith', even for those who believe in a God.
Related external pagesBrunei brings in barbaric sharia laws including death by stoning; 2019/04/02.
Facebook site on Ex-Muslims of Australia
Browse The Koran; a useful English translation of The Koran; includes a search facility
Rational Wiki, Qur'anic contradictions
A record of depictions of Mohammed.
The Problems with Islam; a page of No Beliefs
Human rights in Muslim-majority countries, Wikipedia
Related pages on this site
The following is quoted from Islam Question and Answer, on the Internet, (copied on 2015/07/24).
What is apostasy and what constitutes apostasy? What is the ruling on the apostate (al-murtadd)?
A limit to Islamic excesses?
Apostates should be killed
Appenix A – Apostacy
Calling God Allah
Criticism of Islam
Does Islam export misery?
Freedom of speech
Freedom of the press
Fundamentalist revival; Barry Jones
Human rights in Muslim majority countries
Islam and art
Islam and Christianity
Islam and noise
Islam and rights
Islam and science
Islam and women's rights
Islamic nations are backward
Mohammed Cartoon affair
Muslim dress code and vitamin D
Muslim's life worth more than that of a non-Muslim
On the other hand
The rules according to Mohammed