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From the Desk of Editor (06 Oct 2012 NewAgeIslam.Com)

Coping With Critics Of Moderate Islam - II


 By Sultan Shahin, Editor, New Age Islam

Dear Muhammad Yunus and Ghulam Mohiyuddin Saheban,

You both are terribly concerned about the agenda of ex-Muslims or near ex-Muslims or would-be-ex-Muslims who talk on this “unmoderated” site about why they have left Islam and why we too should leave Islam. But I do not have a clear guidance from either of you what the site should do to become “moderated.”

Obviously, I must start censoring. But what, who, how much, which particular sentences. One hint I got was from one of Mohiyuddin Saheb’s comment. He wrote, quoting a certain “Rationalist,” not “Rational Younus”: "Internet will hasten the fall of Islam." While he (Rationalist) has the right to hold that view, the only websites which would publish such a comment are the bitterly anti-Muslim apostate hate websites.”

Personally I have no problem with the sentence quoted here. This is some one’s wishful thinking, irrational belief or maybe intuition: how can I know. He should have the right to express his view or even wishful thinking.  I believe that it is internet that will save Islam from the depredations of Saudi, Salafi Islam. Now my view too could be just wishful thinking, irrational belief or intuition. This is neither here nor there. I just don’t see why I should be worried about someone wishing or believing in the fall of Islam. I also did not find any problem with this person finding Islam and even Quran problematic. This is again his view. My faith in my understanding of my religion is far too deep and strong to be shaken by such remarks.

However, the sentences preceding that were indeed just a part of standard hate speech that we have routinely deleted and have now been deleted. The deleted portion carries a remark: “Hate Speech deleted – Editor,” as is our norm in such cases.  (I don’t understand how Yunus Saheb could repeat that in his own comment, instead of simply pointing that out to me when he noticed that and getting it deleted. I will have to see what to do with this portion of his own comment or the entire comment.)

This kind of hate speech used to be posted by one “Lee Jay Walker” at one time and got routinely deleted. Since then it had never occurred and so perhaps our monitors got sloppy in recent days. For some reason, our readers, even troubled readers, never report such things, despite a links provided for precisely this purpose. The link for reporting abuse of comments has been provided as mistakes can always happen. Scores of comments are posted every hour or two and we are perennially short of competent editorial staff.

However, I can see that you are not just concerned about this one particular hate speech against the prophet that stayed on the site for so many days, but because of the many comments posted by MY2 who is now Rational Younus and other people with similar views.

I would be grateful for guidance on this score. Should we stop posting comments by people I do not agree with? I think I will probably be left with just you two. And then you two will also stop. I know this because this has happened to the site before in a similar situation we faced in 2009.

Another way would be that we stop debates and discussions altogether with no facility for comment and just post articles from our perspective as do hundreds or thousands of other Islamic websites.

Personally, I find the discussions on our site quite educative and informative, despite the sometimes repetitive nature of some of the points raised by some people. I can absolutely see and sympathise with the quandary this puts you into, having to repeat the same things in different language and sometimes merely copy-paste old comments and links. This is all the more so, as you are convinced about some such people having ulterior motives.

The reason I find it useful is that New Age Islam alone has our ex-Muslims, near ex-Muslims, would-be ex-Muslims, confused Muslims, motivated Islam-haters from within and outside our community, etc. engaging with Islamists of various hues, moderate as well as not-so-moderate, thinking as well as non-thinking Muslims.

Under the onslaught of Saudi Salafi Islam, millions of thinking, honest, humane Muslims, engaged in what can only be called good deeds in various walks of life, have left Islam silently. They retain their Muslim names, occasionally go to Eid and even Friday prayers, if required by the society they live in, and have become confirmed hypocrites in their own mind. They have no qualms about it and are not in the least troubled by this. But they remain completely silent about it in public and only exchange their views with close friends. Their only fault is that they have convinced themselves that Saudi, Salafi Islam is the real Islam and so cannot be a good religion worth bothering about.

It is the vocal ex-Muslim, vocal near-ex-Muslim, in which I see a ray of hope. I feel these people who so loudly proclaim their objections to everything about Islam, are people who love Islam deeply and are having problem leaving Islam or even thinking that they have left Islam. Those who have left are silent about it and have no qualms about their disaffection and are not worried about it. Who cries in a divorce? The person who continues to love his or her partner most.  Who abuses and even sometimes attempts to kill his or her partner? The person who deeply loves or loved his or her partner and is finding the idea of divorce unbearable. I think such a person deserves sympathy and empathy and is not a completely lost soul even though he may himself think so. [The idea of ulterior motivations cannot be completely ruled out, but I prefer to stay out of looking for conspiracies everywhere as much as possible.]

In any case if we have any hope of bringing back to the fold or retaining within the fold those who have gone out or those on the way out, we must listen to them carefully and seek to understand from them where things are going wrong. We can only engage with people who voice their objections. I know a few from the silent ex-Muslim group in several countries. No amount of coaxing brings them come out with their problems. They simply say: “Shahin Bhai, Islam is the one Saudis say Islam is, after all it is basically their religion. I am sure you know that you are peddling a fake version of Islam. But let us leave it at that. I admire your courage in taking on these horrible people and I wish you all success. But I am out. I have nothing to do with Islam. Let us talk of our real concerns.” Now I know that I am not peddling a fake version of Islam. I know that I have the genuine commodity. But there is no way of reaching them with this idea. If someone is so fully convinced of and confirmed in his divorce from his religion that he decides to not even talk about it, how can we reach this person?

Anyway, my question still remains: how do you think we should cope with the critics of Islam on New Age Islam, motivated or interested, from within the fold or out of it, ex-Muslim or soon-to-be-ex-Muslim?

URL: http://www.newageislam.com/from-the-desk-of-editor/sultan-shahin,-editor,-new-age-islam/coping-with-critics-of-moderate-islam---ii/d/8908



  • Absolutely right Mr Ghulam Moyinuddin!

    I too joined this site as well as several others not to battle the mere critics of Islam,but against sadistic/sarcastic elements who have fun in mocking,scorning,insluting & trying every bit in foolishly attempting to demolish Islam,which Allah & his beloved prophet Mohammad(PBUH) has established.

    I think it is quite a high time to tell the non Muslim world that Muslims too have got feelings & toleration limits & it must not be surpassed beyond a level.

    By Aasim S - 11/7/2012 1:01:45 PM

  • Dear Sultan Shahin Saheb: Thank you very much for accommodating my request. New Age Islam is a beacon of hope for people who are in search of Truth, who love human race, who wish to listen to point of view of others, and who believe in freedom of expression. I must admit that I have learnt lot by reading comments and articles published in your journal.
    By Hasan Abbas - 10/19/2012 9:40:38 AM

  • Dear Hasan Abbas Saheb, I am glad I have been able to accommodate your request despite a lot of misgivings in our editorial team. Look forward to your participation in the discussion on the comments on that article.

    Generally I like to listen to what the "khalq-e-Khuda" is saying about us. Some people say, it is akin to God's Voice. It may help us introspect and reform. I prefer to find fault with and criticise myself, sometimes within myself, often publicly, before others start pointing fingers.

    Even if we failed to do, partly because we did not realise our own mistakes, we should not have any problem admitting mistakes. Humans are prone to errors and should have no problem accepting that and then changing, reforming.

    Thanks for the suggestion. Your comment has been shortened, as there was no need for the article there, now that it will be on the main page. Regards

    By Sultan Shahin - 10/18/2012 3:31:33 PM

  • Dear Sultan Shahin Sahib, Sir, I wonder if you could publish the following article.
    Wednesday, 17 Oct 2012 9:17 pm
    Don’t blame the Taliban: Let’s call a spade a spade instead
    Kunwar Khuldune Shahid Friday, 12 Oct 2012

    By Hasan Abbas - 10/18/2012 7:04:39 AM

  • I agree with Dr. Pramod Kant that hostile attacks on Islam by non-Muslims at this site adversely affect both the direction and tone of the discourse. Such attacks are usually reflexive and repetitive exercises and are equivalents of heckling.
    I disagree with the good doctor on one point. If there is anyone more anti-Muslim than right-wing Hindus it is the apostate. Since an apostate's aim is to derail the stream of dialogue and to mock those who try to promote rationality and moderation, he is most inimical to the mission of this site.
    I do hate the word "ban". I favor judicious moderation and monitoring.
    By Ghulam Mohiyuddin - 10/14/2012 1:21:00 PM

  • Thanks, Mr Mohammad Yunus 1, for your kind remarks and 'By Hats Off', for your frank comments on my suggestions, not exhortations by any means! I thought the language used should have made it clear but obviously it didn't.
    I am aware of the point you are making about the anonymity of the commentators. On the issue under consideration (critique of Islam by non-Muslims) the point is not really about the true identity of the commentator but the declared or assumed or the apparent identity. If any of these suggest a non-Muslim then the moderator could censor the remarks.
    And if somebody still slips in by camouflaging it does not really matter because he could get in only by making himself appear as Muslim and would not be able to raise heckles because of his origins. He can still do so by the nature of his remarks but that would only be seen as self-analysis rather than hateful remarks by a member of another community.
    By Dr Promode Kant - 10/14/2012 1:15:46 PM

  • with regard to dr pramod kant's exhortation to mr sultan shahin.
    if the doctor had just continued on the course of his reasoning, he would have seen very clearly that it is next to impossible to divine from internet forum avatars which one belongs to which religion. there is simply no way of deciding who is a muslim, or an ex muslim, or a hindu, or a christian or an atheist except by analyzing the responses of a particular commentator in question. the captcha text can only tell mr shahin if the respondent is a human or a web bot, it cannot tell mr shahin if the one is a muslim or ex muslim or a hindu or a christian.
    at the very bottom of this journal (in the words of the doctor) lies the question of debate and consensus in the practice and precept of islam. censoring comments is only appropriate with refernce to questions on the range and domain of the discussin/debate. no argument is 'wasted' unless it falls out side the domain and range of the discussion. questions on and of islam have ceased to be the topics for internal islamic debate. today they are fundamental questions of state policy, individual rights, minority protection, freedom of conscience and a whole lot of other very seminal topics which are impacting the whole world today.
    disallowing (even presuming that such is actually possible) non muslims from either flaming or fanning arguments is not going to address the deep schisms, parallell narratives and alternatine interpretations in the practice and precept of islam as a contemporary religion. censorship is a short cut at best and a subterfuge at the worst. while trivializing the doubters and the skeptics may win the battle, it cannot be the strategy for winning the war.'
    By hats off! - 10/14/2012 11:34:24 AM

  • Dear Dr. Promode Kant. It is joy and relief to read your comment. It mirrors my deep concern and lends strength to my suggestion that I just conveyed to the Editor in an e mail attaching my detailed defensive commentary to a subtle broadside by Mr. dharma raj under my article 'The Qur'an's regards for the People of the book....."
    "Your website is turning into a battlefield between Muslim and Hindu intellectuals and pro-Islmaic and anti-Islamic Muslim commentators. This is a very unhealthy trend and you should set out a clear mission statement, which must include i) to regenerate Islamic thoughts and ii) to promote inter-faith relations. Quotations from medieval vitriolic/ apocryphal sources and historical allusions that conflict with your agenda should be screened out. All commentators may be advised through an open letter from the Editor's desk .  
    By muhammad yunus (1) - 10/14/2012 11:17:06 AM

  • Dear Mr Sultan Shahin, I am in complete agreement with your views on the limits on moderation of comments on this web journal with restrictions only on abusive language. The prime objective, indeed the very raison d'être, of this journal is to lead the way to what a large number of Muslims see as the Islam revealed to the Prophet - a religion of peace, keen to share the human space with the rest of the world on truly equal terms. This may require a long internal debate to remove the hubris arising out of past glories and place the many real and perceived injuries to the Muslims, since the age of industrialization, in their right contexts. Understandably, this debate is not going to proceed in a straight line with only mild words spoken with smiles (though some, like Mr Mohammad Yunus 1, still manage to do).
    However, the debate has to be, by its very nature, internal to the Islamic community including those who may have left Islam as a religion but are still part of Islam culturally. I notice a lot of time wasted in arguments with non-Muslims on who is uglier, usually initiated by critical comments on Islam by non-Muslims. In my view this does not further the objectives of this journal. Criticism by outsiders, and comparison with others, only arouses hostility and change becomes even more difficult. After all the purpose is not to make Muslims indistinguishable from the rest!
    I, therefore, have one suggestion for your kind consideration. Please think of disallowing criticism of Islam and its comparison with other religions by non-Muslim. I suspect you, as an editor, may find it a despicable suggestion. But it could be tried it for a month or so and if you feel it significantly enhances the quality of debate, as I think it would, then it could be continued.
    Warm regards
    By Dr Promode Kant - 10/14/2012 9:58:42 AM

  • Hasan Abbas Sb., Bringing the rules of logic or scientific observation to the sphere of faith is inappropriate.
    By Ghulam Mohiyuddin - 10/12/2012 12:56:50 PM

  • Dear Ghulam Mohiyuddin , Sir, Thanks . According to your esteemed opinion, separate rules apply to life and faith, which  means that they are two separate entities.
    By Hasan Abbas - 10/12/2012 4:46:01 AM

  • Hasan Abbas Sb., that kind of argument works in other areas of life but in matters of faith different rules apply. I am sure however that you mean well.
    By Ghulam Mohiyuddin - 10/11/2012 3:23:14 PM

  • Dear Ghulam Mohiyuddin: Sir, the problem is that the king is naked. He will remain in this miserable condition until somebody tells him about reality and offers him royal garb.
    Ignoring the questions resembles the behaviour of an ostrich. When it is scared (of reality?), it hides its head in sand.
    I have no intention to mock beliefs of others but I have the bad habit of calling a spade a spade.
    By Hasan Abbas - 10/11/2012 11:47:19 AM

  • It is indeed difficult to edit perfectly the abusive portions because language construction, just like many other things, is subjective. I think we should grow mature enough to not get affected by negative remarks (earlier I used to get upset, but now I think I don't)
    By Aiman Reyaz - 10/10/2012 7:00:33 AM

  • Hasan Abbas says, "You can treat me as a child who said: The king is naked."
    You have every right to say what you want to say and you have every right to ask the questions you want to ask. Similarly a Muslim has every right to ignore those questions that were asked simply to mock his beliefs.
    By Ghulam Mohiyuddin - 10/9/2012 3:16:56 PM

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