THE MEANING OF JIHAD & ISLAMIC HISTORY:
HOW DO I KNOW?
By Dr. Babu Suseelan
Everything is "Islamic religious experience," so many Muslim leaders would have us believe.
To accept the proposition, however, is to move toward the position that there is no "knowledge," only "opinion" and "experience." An educated Islamic leader once remarked:
These statements and questions are intended to act like a silencer. It can bring rational discussion about the brutal past of Muslims and Jihadi terrorism to a stop. It can inhibit discussion before it begins, discussion about Islamic fundamentalism and Jihadi terrorism. The vague talk and faulty logic about "Islamic experience" has subversive power. The question is posed to discredit non-believers.
This state of mind of fundamentalist Muslims can lead to a sort of whimsical talk. It means Muslim fundamentalist leaders are afraid to look at what they are doing, practicing, and preaching. Muslim radical leaders use "Islamic life experience" as a term of contempt for reason and knowledge. Even to ask the question -- "Are you a Muslim?" -- takes a lot of courage and means a shortcut to denial.
There are powerful implications in such questions. One is that experience with Islamic life distorts facts. It is a false assumption that only a practicing Muslim can understand Islamic Jihad and its history. Fundamentalist Muslim leaders, in order to dismiss knowledge and reasoning, frequently use this argument about Islamic life experience.
Like all relativistic, dogmatic, and irrational arguments, this one is faulty. The argument about Islamic life experience is not credible. It is to be discredited simply by identifying its origin. Running to "Islamic experience and faith" is running away from the whole business of truth seeking. It is evading the issue of the brutal past of Islam and the atrocities committed by Jihadi terrorists. Jihadi terrorists, Islamic suicide bombers, and Muslim fundamentalist preachers have Islamic experience. Who in the world would deny that? Islamists might sensibly boast of it. They offer their "Islamic experience" without rational analysis or in total ignorance of their past history.
I do not want to deny the religious experience of Muslim radicals, but only wish to suggest that the assumption that "Islamic belief" is where we start, and never where we end, is an enormously unsafe assumption.
One can gain knowledge and insight about Islamic theocracy without believing in Qur'anic concepts or practicing Islamic dictates. A view might be acquired with no experience, without belief at all. Most people acquire the view that Jihadi terrorism and suicide bombing is wrong, doing do with no experience of terrorism or bombing. Yet, the view proves to be a dependable analysis.
The assumption that belief and experience necessarily underlie knowledge, or the notion that all knowledge needs to be based on practical experience, is a falacy. The Muslim's falatious argument is, nonetheless, potent. "How do you know and how can you tell us about Jihad and Islam if you are not a believing and practicing Muslim are, in reality, impertinent questions. One can certainly know that Jihadi terrorism is dangerous. We know that suicide bombing is dangerous. One would continue to believe that fundamentalist, dogmatic Islam poses a threat to pluralism, secularism, and religious freedom without any Islamic religious experience or faith in Qur'anic concepts. Any argument to discredit this proposition would be discredited before it is heard.
Muslim radicals' assumption about "Islamic faith and experience" needs to be replaced with the idea of "coherence theory." Coherence theory proposes that knowledge and common views are seen to be true when they cohere with other common views and historical facts one already holds and accepts. Coherence theory accepts that, in speaking of morality, we know what to value and what to condemn.
I shall expand the coherence theory with further illustrations. Many of us have not witnessed the Islamic conquest of Constantinople or the destruction of Persian civilization by Muslim invaders, but are convinced, with certainty, that these are historical facts. This certainty is not irrational, and our knowledge would not be reinforced by converting to Islam. Many of us have not witnessed suicide bombings, but are utterly convinced that suicide bombing is inhuman and that suicide bombers are mostly Muslims.
We know that Jihadi terrorism, suicide bombing, kidnapping, hijacking, and coercive religious conversion are wrong. Our beliefs about these criminal acts need not be grounded on any single argument, set of arguments, or faith and experience.
To the Muslim fundamentalist's challenging question of how do you know about Islam, or are you a believer, one need only answer that no answer to that question is necessary. We know because the numerous considerations that bear on the danger of Jihadi terrorism cohere and fit in with our worldview on that matter.
A recent incident reminded me vividly of the marked validity of coherence theory. On publishing a pamphlet titled Dangers of Coercive Religious Conversion," I received comments from a number of Muslims arguing that "freedom" means freedom to forcibly convert non-believers, freedom to impose Islamic morality and Muslim jurisprudence. Perhaps, there is no single argument by which one could refute that whimsical statement, but, if I had to choose between being subject to Islamic morality and jurisprudence on the one hand and, on the other, enjoying freedom to believe in secularism, I would choose the latter without hesitation.
The Muslim radicals may reply that my belief about freedom, secularism, and religion fail to reflect the ontological concepts of Islam. This mirror image is potent, potent in the sense that it is widely accepted by Islamic fundamentalists. It is also known as "correspondence theory." It is often assumed that one must believe in Islamic faith and experience Islamic life in order to tell the truth about Islam. This also means that one must have blind faith in Islamic concepts in order to correctly interpret Jihadi terrorism. Though plausible, the argument is inadequate and ultimately false.
The life of a Jihadi terrorist can be real, and, then, that life, in itself, may not be the life one ought to live. Muslim fundamentalists and Jihadis must transcend the narrow Islamic tunnel vision and see the real worrld as a whole. They must realize that partial, dualistic, and particular Islamic worldviews are narrow, rigid, inadequate, and false.
Impatience, hostility, tunnel vision, and cognitive distortion are characteristic of the thinking and attitudes of Muslim fundamentalists. Islamists are in a hurry to discredit non-believers. How do you know about Islam is less a question than a challenge.
The task of convincing an Islamic radical of the market superiority of reason and knowledge over a rigid, dualistic, and false system could take more time than a Muslim would be willing to give. A Muslim would not stay for an answer, nor would he be willing to be free. Muslims are to be forced into freedom.
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Dr. Babu Suseelan is a professor of clinical psychology and the director of a drug and alcohol treatment program in Pennsylvania. He writes on the subject of Islamic terrorism and its effect on Hindu society. Dr. Suseelan can be contacted at the following email address: firstname.lastname@example.org
The foregoing article by Dr. Suseelan was originally published on the Internet website maintained by Faith Freedom International, a grassroots movement of ex-Muslims, the goals of which are to (1) unmask Islam and show that it is an imperialistic ideology akin to Nazism, but disguised as a religion, and (2) help Muslims to leave this pseudo-religion, end the Islamic culture of hate caused by an "us" versus "them" ethos, and embrace the human race in amity. Members of Faith Freedom International strive for the unity of Mankind through the elimination of Islam, the most insidious doctrine of hate.
To read the original version of Dr. Suseelan's article,
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