Tuesday, October 07, 2014

Maher's problem

This is one of my pet peeves.

Every once in a while, I get into an argument with some anti-Muslim bigot online. Inevitably, my interlocutor will cite some  source about Islam that turns out to be a web site that was clearly designed by someone who does not like Islam very much.

As I always point out, if you want to get factual information about a religion perhaps the worst place imaginable to look for it is from people who hate the religion. You wouldn't try to find out what the Talmud says by visiting neo-Nazi web sites. If you want to really find out what a religion means to the people in the religion, the best place to go is to people who are actual believers, not the people dedicated to bringing the religion down.

I'm not sure why more people don't talk to adherents of a religion to learn about a religion, or read the stuff they write. It is not hard to find. (And yes, you can always hunt down the writings of the radical fringe of any religion. If you're trying to find out what the fringe is saying, fine. But don't be an idiot and pretend that is a stand-in for every believer.)

Frankly, there is a lot of stuff in mainstream Islam that I disagree with. I am not, after all, a Muslim. Reading that stuff and talking to actual Muslim believers has not converted me or sucked me into some moon worshipping death cult. On the contrary, it has given me appreciation for what the religion really is. By that I mean what the religion means to people who actually see value in it and believe in it. It is really not that hard to do.