Rejoinder to Reza Aslan – Blame everything but religion?
Of course there are discrepancies in how religion is promulgated and enforced across the world because religion is man-made (and masculine-made). A woman can legally vote in Iran, but not even drive in Saudi Arabia. But this relative diversity does not negate the fact that traditional ideas in Islam about martyrdom, jihad, blasphemy, apostasy, and the status of women and so on are there, plain to see, in scripture for any Muslim to exploit. Any fair-minded Muslim can denounce literalist creeds of these ideas on whatever basis (usually secular), but one thing they cannot say is that fundamentalists are not “true” Muslims or, what Obama has said, that “no faith teaches” what ISIS does. Aslan is an apologist in this regard. He preaches non-judgment when it is a matter of empirical fact that literalist interpretations of scripture are more prevalent and politicised in Islam at present than any other monotheism. Is it bigotry to point that out? No. Intolerance of religious dogma is important whenever it arises, whether in Islam, Christianity or whatever. If 500 years ago during the colonisation of the Americas, a larger proportion churches and its Christians had said as Columbus did – “let us in the name of the Holy Trinity go on sending all the slaves that can be sold” (drawing on mandates for slavery in the Bible – Leviticus 44-46; Parabols, Luke 12:47), then we’d be saying, rightly, that Christianity promotes violence.