I will be debating in Galway at 7pm today on the topic ‘Is Islam a religion of Peace?’

by Michael Nugent on October 9, 2014

I will be debating in Galway at 7pm today on the topic ‘Is Islam a religion of Peace?’

The debate is organised by the Literary and Debating Society at the National University of Ireland, Galway and is in the Kirwan theatre.

The speakers are:

  • Shaykh Dr Umar al-Qadri of the Al-Mustafa Islamic Cultural Centre
  • Dr Oliver Scharbrodt, Prof of Islamic Studies at the University of Chester
  • Abdullah al Andalusi, co-founder of the Muslim Debate Initiative
  • Mr Michael Nugent, Chairman of Atheist Ireland
  • Mr Ian O’Doherty, journalist at the Irish Independent
  • Dr Mark Humphrys, lecturer at Dublin City University (DCU) and writer on religion and politics
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{ 25 comments… read them below or add one }

1 noelplum99 October 9, 2014 at 12:47 pm

Good luck with that tonight. Is it being filmed and uploaded on YouTube?

2 Chris October 9, 2014 at 1:30 pm

That’ll be a short debate :)

3 MosesZD October 9, 2014 at 1:33 pm

Nothing personal anyone, but I am skeptical that any major religion could be characterized as ‘a religion of peace.’ Any fair reading of their texts or honest appraisal of their actions (priests and followers) would indicate they’re plenty violent and this violence is endorsed/encouraged by their deity.

As for Islam, we only have to look at Shia on Sunni (and vice versa) religious in-fighting to see that there is ‘no peace.’ And that inter-faith fighting isn’t enough, we can just point to ISIS, fatwas and global terrorism (over 18,000 attacks in the past two years under the rubric of “Islam”).

And if that’s not good enough to illustrate the point, we have 1400 hundred years of history — Muslims, since the time of Mohammed, have continued their Jihad against other religions to this day. The only thing that has checked them is in-fighting and the ability of non-Muslims to defend themselves. Even in our modern, increasingly secular world, not a week goes by that Islamic fundamentalists do not attempt to kill Christians, Jews, Hindus and Buddhists explicitly in the name of Allah.

And if that’s not good enough… I think there’s no hope of convincing a brick wall to listen.

4 Chris October 9, 2014 at 1:35 pm

More seriously, why is islam seen as a monolith rather than the shattered shards it is? Some are mohammedams (believe everything that mohammed did was right and good and to be copied) other less so.

Hopefully we don’t say Christianity and assume it is all one and take the worst cases and apply that to all Christians.

5 Robert Bennett October 9, 2014 at 2:31 pm

@Chris. That is the point, Islam is fractious and does not have a ‘Vatican’. The global danger of Islam is exagerated for a purpose. Every country with an Islamic population from Morocco right through to The Philipines has been or is a victim of ‘Western’ colonial or neo colonial exploitation and the reaction has been to adopt Islam as the lowest common denominator in reaction. On June 3rd. 1979, then US President Carter signed an order giving modern weapons to the Islamic force which was then fighting the government in Kabul on issues such as education for females and land reform. The US hoped that the Soviet Union would be drawn in. When Carters national secutity adviser was asked about the damger of inflaming the situation, he is reported as saying “who is afraid of a few angry Moslems?”. ISAL is only a distraction to the real Western goal, which is to overthrow the government of Assad in Damascus. The secular regimes of Sadaam, Nasser, Gadhaffi and Assad were the real threat to Western hegemony, as they were/are socially, politically and militarily coherent.

6 Acleron October 9, 2014 at 3:38 pm

One can take any irrational belief system and then measure the frequency of some characteristic. In this case, propensity to peace/violence. The question can then be answered scientifically as a comparison between belief systems. I suspect the answer would not be favourable to Islam but am prepared to be surprised.

7 MosesZD October 9, 2014 at 3:52 pm

“Hopefully we don’t say Christianity and assume it is all one and take the worst cases and apply that to all Christians.”

18,000 terrorist attacks done in the name of Islam… But I have to correct my previous post. I confused two stats, it was 18,000 terrorist attacks (done in the name of Islam) since 09/11/2001.

Not 18,000 in the past two years. My bad. But at least I double-checked and made an unsolicited correction.

Now, tell me how many terrorist attacks we’ve had from Christians in the Name of Jesus during this time? I’m sure there are few, I won’t say zero. But, really, just how many?

So, yeah, Modern Christianity still has its issues. But Modern Islam (never mind historical Islam) is hardly the ‘religion of peace’ as it is currently binge re-branded. Rather, it’s a religion that is, objectively and subjectively speaking, far more violent and far ‘worse’ (ie far less egalitarian) than modern Christianity.

8 Chris October 9, 2014 at 4:05 pm

@Robert Bennett
Christianity doesn’t have a Vatican, the Catholic church (the one headquartered in the Vatican in Rome) does. You lumped all Christians under Catholics, yes they are the vast majority of Christians but not all of them.

I don’t think the problem of islam is overweighted, it has thrown up some awful sects and they commit acts that are evil. Trying to blame this on the west is avoiding the fact that the traits are there otherwise the west couldn’t use them.

@MosesZD
I don’t disagree that islam is, by the action of many of its adherents, evil and pernicious. I was simply pointing out that it isn’t a singular creed. Even the Koran (or perhaps a hadith) claims there will be 76 sects on the day of judgement and you better be in the correct one.

Its holy book plus the hadiths are clear what jihad means and it isn’t internal contemplation.

9 Acleron October 9, 2014 at 5:05 pm

@chris. it has thrown up some awful sects and they commit acts that are evil. Trying to blame this on the west is avoiding the fact that the traits are there otherwise the west couldn’t use them.

If a predominantly xian country was attacked or oppressed by a more powerful country with a different cult are you totally sure it wouldn’t react in a similar way and with the same rhetoric as the Muslim countries?

10 James Caruthers October 9, 2014 at 6:05 pm

Does anyone know which sects of Islam are the most violent and fundamentalist? Which are responsible for the violence sweeping Europe in the wake of mass Muslim immigration? Which groups are calling for beheadings, and conversely, which are denouncing the violent rhetoric (and violent actions) of the machete-wielding rape gangs?

I don’t know much about Islam. I’ll admit there must be good Muslims out there, particularly those I meet in my country, but it seems to me there is more hand-wringing over “Islamophobia” than there is gang rapes and rusty-machete-beheadings committed in the name of their prophet.

11 Dave Allen October 9, 2014 at 6:45 pm

“More seriously, why is islam seen as a monolith rather than the shattered shards it is?”

It is a religion of pieces.

12 Henry Fitzgerald October 9, 2014 at 9:39 pm

In response to Robert Bennet (#5)…

“Every country with an Islamic population from Morocco right through to The Philipines has been or is a victim of ‘Western’ colonial or neo colonial exploitation…”

…And many of these countries got to have an Islamic population in the first place thanks to Arabian colonial exploitation.

But that’s by the by. More importantly: does this generalisation of yours include countries in Europe itself, like Albania? Probably it does, since there’s definitely been colonial exploitation within Europe, in places like the Balkans (and of course Ireland!), as well as without.

But without, there’s been colonial exploitation everywhere: in every single part of the globe. This makes your generalisation rather empty. Of course there’s been colonial exploitation wherever Islam is; there’s been colonial exploitation wherever anything is.

Different parts of the globe have responded to this history of colonialism in different ways, but if you want to know why the Islamic bits of the globe have responded rather more badly than other bits, on average, it seems more fruitful to examine what it is about Islam that causes this, rather than what it is about colonialism.

13 Robert Bennett October 9, 2014 at 11:27 pm

Reply to 8 & 12. I should indeed have said Roman Catholicism has a Vatican-or a coherent structure. The real value of the Reformation imo was not that it was in the least a liberal movement, but that it was fractious and broke a monolith-thereby incidently giving greater individual freedom from religion. Re. colonialism of Moslem inhabited countries, yes indeed, Islam was spread by the sword and within 100 years of Mohammeds death was in what is now France. Christianity spread with the Roman empire and the with the colonial adventures of Spain, etc. However, I am refering to the immediately pre and post First World War and other recent neo colonialism by Britain and France primarily . Before the involvement of the US, Afghanistan was on a hippie route to India. But………….the cow entered the china shop…………

14 Chris October 10, 2014 at 11:24 am

~

@Aclron
If a predominantly xian country was attacked or oppressed by a more powerful country with a different cult are you totally sure it wouldn’t react in a similar way and with the same rhetoric as the Muslim countries?

Why ask, history already shows us what happens.
The drive by the caliphate was stopped at the Gates of Vienna and at Tours then slowly driven back.

Was it nasty and bloody, yes it was because wars are, but there wasn’t the deliberate torture and murder of non-combatants.

15 Chris October 10, 2014 at 11:35 am

@Robert Bennett
The real value of the Reformation imo was not that it was in the least a liberal movement, but that it was fractious and broke a monolith-thereby incidently giving greater individual freedom from religion.

I suspect the reformation you are talking about was the one in Western Europe against the western patriarchy (RCs), I’m sure you realise that there had been reformations/schisms in other parts of Christianity (Nestorians, Thomasa, Copts, etc) prior to the one in Western Europe.

It broke a monolith, that is true.
Not sure why you think it gave greater freedom from religion, different shards controlled different people but you still had to go to church.
The freedom came more after the black death reduced the labour force and helped break the back of feudalism.
The likes of Luther, Calvin and Knox weren’t anti-authority they just wanted the authority for themselves.

16 Robert Bennett October 10, 2014 at 5:08 pm

@Chris. I understand that the expansion of the Ottoman Empire was was arrested at Vienna. This was an expression of Turkish nationalism rather than merely being Islamic, as there was no seperate caliphate in the Empire. Yes indeed, Luther, Calvin and Knox weren’t anti-authority they just wanted the authority for themselves. But ‘themselves’ differed, so the individual benifited from schism ultimately.

17 Carrie October 11, 2014 at 11:01 am

How did the event go, Michael? It wouldn’t surprise me if you blew them away. I don’t see how any of the Abrahamic religions can be seen as “Religions of peace” since they are all based on a vicious god and texts laced with violence.

I for one am very keen to hear about it and, if possible, even to see a youtube video of it.

18 piero October 11, 2014 at 12:45 pm

@Robert Bennett #5:

The global danger of Islam is exagerated for a purpose. Every country with an Islamic population from Morocco right through to The Philipines has been or is a victim of ‘Western’ colonial or neo colonial exploitation and the reaction has been to adopt Islam as the lowest common denominator in reaction.

Bollocks. South American countries were colonies of Spain and Portugal. Where are the South American Catholic terrorists?

India was a British colony. Where are the Hindu terrorists? The Sikh terrorists?

It is obvious that Islamic terrorism is motivated by more than political or aconomic grievances. It is true that both the christian and the muslim religion have plenty of horrific passages in their holy books to support all kinds of abhorrent behaviour; but it is also true that the vast majority of christians don’t act on them, and don’t even tacitly support those who do. So to say that the Bible is as violent as the Koran is disingenuous: religions are not defined by their holy books, but by the way believers practice their faith.

19 Robert Bennett October 11, 2014 at 1:18 pm

The majority of the populations in most of South American are the decendents of the conquerors and the identities of the origonal inhabitants have either been exterminated or suppressed. Anybody who tries to upset the power structure goes like Che in Bolivia or is crushed like Cuba. Pinochet , Galtieri etc. dealth with dissent in their dirty wars where necessary. I cannot see a parallel. Oh yes…….Sikhs, was there a ‘plane blown up south of Irelamd some years ago and wasnt Indira Ghandi killed by Sikhs? It is also true that the vast majority of people who were imbued by the Muslim religiondo not even tacitly support those who do nasty things. Indonesia, India and Pakistan are the 3 top Muslim countries by population. Apart from Afghan spillover in Pakistan, there is little sectarian activity.

20 Michael Nugent October 11, 2014 at 1:47 pm

The debate was very interesting, and we should have video online by Monday.

I argued that there is a spectrum of manifestations of Islam, from a-la-carte cultural Muslims and mainstream Muslims to Islamists and terrorists, and that collectively they constitute Islam.

I argued that at its most significant manifestation, Islam is actually an integrated religious and judicial and political ideology and system of social governance. And you cannot disentangle the religious and judicial and political elements of Islam in this context.

Therefore Islam cannot be peaceful, because as an integrated system of social governance, it has to be violent when it needs to be, in order to protect Islamic values (in the same way that secular liberal democracy has to be violent when it needs to be, in order to protect secular liberal democratic values.)

But secular liberal democratic values can be refined over time, while Islamic values are shackled to the Quran and the Hadiths. These documents reflect the values of a considerably more violent era. Also, those documents are inspired by Allah, and are therefore difficult or impossible to change.

Islam is therefore an ideology imposed by force, and unable to adapt to the evolving human rights standards of modern secular liberal democracies.

21 LurkerPerson October 11, 2014 at 4:01 pm

Agreed. Islam is still a “total life guide”. It is as much a political ideology as a religion for most of it’s practitioners. I am so bored of disengenuous liars using extremely minoritary moderate islamic fragments and pretending they represent the religion.

The Ben Afflecks of the world can whine and cry “islamophobia” and “racism” all they want, it won’t change basis facts, that the vast majority of the muslim world is more socially conservative and hostile to their progressive ideology and mores than anything in the western world. These willfully blind and naive people have no problem recognizing their ideological enemies in their own countries but shift things to an “exotic” locale and they lose all sense of perspective. A mix of condescending orientalism and “white” guilt (ignoring how many self-identified muslims are “white”, and are even classified as such in government surveys that distinguish “race”). I’ve even seen political protests from LGBT groups coming out in support of Islam. Foolish trendy hipsters. Bill Maher is right. If you are not critical of Islam, your liberal values are nothing more than a cheap mask.

However I don’t think this means Islam is immune to the changes being wrought the world over by communication technologies. This article by the War Nerd gives his anecdotal opinion on the clash between conservative social muslim mores in Kuwait and the way youth are using new technology to circumvent them.

http://pando.com/2014/10/09/the-war-nerd-technology-culture-wars-jihad/

22 Carrie October 11, 2014 at 4:43 pm

You made excellent points, Michael!

I shall keep an eye out for that video .

23 Chris October 11, 2014 at 5:26 pm

@Robert Bennett
@Chris. I understand that the expansion of the Ottoman Empire was was arrested at Vienna. This was an expression of Turkish nationalism rather than merely being Islamic, as there was no seperate caliphate in the Empire.

Incorrect, the Ottoman empire was ruled by the Caliph (in other words, the Sultan of the Ottoman empire was the Calipha), Turkey didn’t exist until after the empire had fallen, the empire was a lot more than just Turkey, ruled all of what is now called MENA plus a lot more in southern europe and central asia.

Yes indeed, Luther, Calvin and Knox weren’t anti-authority they just wanted the authority for themselves. But ‘themselves’ differed, so the individual benifited from schism ultimately.

Is that a suggestion that the enlightenment was caused by the reformation?

24 Robert Bennett October 11, 2014 at 6:38 pm

@ Chris. There are too many local problems for me to spend more time on this subject. In Ireland, Opus Dei have established Family Resource Centres (117) al over the State and have infiltrated and control voluntary and community organisations from Parents Associations to Schools BOMs, Local Radio to even Tidy Towns organisations. The challenge is to create public awareness of this fact and to challenge it and the use of public money in supporting its infiltration. Islam can wait.

25 Michael Nugent October 12, 2014 at 11:05 pm

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