Monday, May 01, 2006

Muslim Apologetic Tactics of (Non-)Debate

From Arch L (shlit"a), with whom We communicate by e-mail, We received a series of exchanges between Robert Spencer (shlit"a) and Khaleel Mohammad. In Robert Spencer's (shlit"a) final response, he wrote:

One of his principal tactics in doing so is to impugn my knowledge of Islam. This is something he has in common with other Islamic apologists - many of whom have derided me as 'ignorant' without ever actually proving me wrong. It generally goes something like this:

Me: The Qur'an teaches violence against unbelievers (with citations).
Islamic apologist: You are ignorant. It doesn't mean that. You have to know hadith.
Me: The Hadith teaches violence against unbelievers (with citations).
Islamic apologist: You are ignorant. It doesn't mean that. You have to know Islamic law.
Me: Islamic law teaches violence against unbelievers (with citations).
Islamic apologist: You are ignorant. It doesn't mean that. And Muslims today don't pay attention to these ancient laws.
Me: Modern-day jihad terrorists cite Qur'an, hadith, and Islamic law to justify violence against unbelievers (with citations).
Islamic apologist: You are ignorant. Most Muslims see these things differently.
Me: Great. How will they refute the jihadist exegesis and so end jihadist recruitment among Muslims?
Islamic apologist: You are ignorant. I am not going to speak with you about this any more.


Quite telling indeed. And accurate.

Another tendency is to have a quotation war. When one side quotes a quotation (from the Qur'an, aHadeeth, sunnah, sharee'ah, tasafeer, et cetera), the other sides responds with another quotation to cancel it out, as it were. Or the other side may try to quote a quotation from a higher source to trump the first quotation. Such wars are common among Muslim groups as well. This can be something as grand as debates between Sunnis and Shiites, with one party refuting one's opponent's beliefs and practices and supporting one's own beliefs and rulings, or it can be quite petty as arguments between two Muslim religious groups (such as the Sunni Hanafi Deobandis and the Sunni Hanafi Barelvis) where one side attempts to refute the other side's writings with quotations from traditional Islamic sources and vice versa.

The problem is that neither side can win. The only way the argument ends is when one side accuses the other of being heretical, schismatic, or non-Muslim entirely, and ending the debate by refusing to speak further. With non-Muslims, who are already infidels, they would have to resort to accusing the non-Muslims of ignorance or conspiracy, but the end result is the same: a unilateral withdrawal from the debate.

Update: The entire debate can be read here. Link from Arch L.

inna naHnu-l-a'lam.

1 Comments:

At 4:09 PM, Blogger Christopher Taylor said...

I've not read the whole Koran yet, but I have noticed a distinct tendency toward contradiction and reversal of rulings and statements. It's sort of confusing to me, and I'd like to believe this is a translation problem but I strongly suspect not. It really does appear that there's no one "true" way to be a Muslim or to approach many issues, which has to result in a great deal of conflict just in it's self.

 

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