My discussion on #radio4 about violent extremism. @13.30 min

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One thought on “My discussion on #radio4 about violent extremism. @13.30 min

  1. Hi Adam. I saw you on Panorama, and was very gratified to hear what you had to say, e.g. your insistence upon rationality, and your outright condemnation of the idea that apostates from Islam deserve to be killed. Having studied the Koran many times in several different translations (and the first time I read it was 25 years ago), however, I do worry that one of its core and most oft-repeated messages is that those who do not submit to the Will of Allah will justly be tortured for all eternity in hell-fire. My questions to you are these: are Muslims required to believe this? If not, how would you say that the many verses in the Koran in which this is stated are to be interpreted? If so, do you think that it is is rational and just, especially given the fact that the Koran also clearly states right at the beginning that Allah himself deliberately made the unbelievers blind, deaf and dumb to his message? Do you not think that the general characterisation of unbelievers / believers in other gods in the Koran as evil, as “the lowliest of all creatures in Allah’s eyes”, and as thoroughly deserving of torture of an unimaginably cruel kind for all eternity; do you not think these ideas are themselves extreme, irrational, and demonising? What could better enforce an “Us versus Them”, inside/outsider sense of identity and morality than the idea that we (Muslims) will be rewarded for all eternity in Heaven while Them (unbelievers) will be tortured for all eternity? And if Muslims genuinely believe that e.g. atheists and apostates are going to suffer such a fate, is it not natural that they should want to keep such accursed people from having an influence on their loved ones? Is it not, indeed, *rational* to get rid of one or two accursed, hell-bound creatures, by either locking them up or executing them, in order to prevent unbelief from spreading, and more souls from suffering for all eternity in hell? So it’s all very well saying that killing people for apostasy is “irrational”, but given that one of the core doctrines of Islam is that apostates are bound for eternal hell-fire, and that anyone who follows them will do likewise, what exactly is irrational about killing them? After all, what is quickly and painlessly executing someone in this world (which, after all, is “mere trifle and play” according to the Koran) in comparison with eternal torture in the Hereafter?

    I ask these questions because I deeply share your concerns about extremism and violence, but have always been very concerned about the fact that I have never seen any Muslims, however moderate, actually take issue with anything in the Koran itself. Given some of its contents, this, I believe, is a very serious problem indeed.

    I would be very grateful for the opportunity to discuss these things with you. If you would prefer to respond via email, please just let me know how to contact you or drop me a message.

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