• How moderate Islam shoots itself in the foot…and sometimes face

    Shot in the head ... Malala Yousafzai.
    Malala, shot

    Malala Yousafzai is one of the bravest people in the world today. She did not stop campaigning for girls’ right to an education, until she was shot by the Taliban. Few of us would have the courage to stand up asked masked gunmen as adults, let along teenagers. And they have not given up trying to finish her off. And she hasn’t just been an irritation to the Taliban, but also to the “anti-imperialist” left.

    And yet, look at how she started her talk, when she spoke at the UN.

     But first of all, thank you to God for whom we all are equal and thank you to every person who has prayed for my fast recovery and a new life.

    Presumably the same God who did not spare her the bullet? And to whom many have prayed for her recovery, and others for her death?

    I have written before about why moderate religion is the enabler of extremists. By playing up the religious language, calling faith a virtue, and naming the scripture the source of morality, it gives the extremists exactly the cover they need to carry on with their atrocities. In the case of Malala, this “cover” is looking at us, quite literally, in the face.malala


    None of this, of course, makes a dent in my admiration for Malala. My hat will always be off to her. But I believer her display of affiliation (in words and actions) with the religion that gave rise to the ideology that tried to kill her is the wrong ideas. It is not just her, of course: there are many millions who have been hurt by religion, and yet fail to let go. But her example is perhaps the most glaring one.

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    I was raised in the Islamic world. By accident of history, the plague that is entanglement of religion and government affects most Muslim majority nations a lot worse the many Christian majority (or post-Christian majority) nations. Hence, I am quite familiar with this plague. I started doubting the faith I was raised in during my teen years. After becoming familiar with the works of enlightenment philosophers, I identified myself as a deist. But it was not until a long time later, after I learned about evolutionary science, that I came to identify myself as an atheist. And only then, I came to know the religious right in the US. No need to say, that made me much more passionate about what I believe in and what I stand for. Read more...