Saturday, November 28, 2009

Intrinsically

I found this passage in a post by Jerry Coyne hilariously funny:

Well, I’m not in favor of stereotyping individual Muslims, but as for Islam, well, it does seem to be an intrinsically belligerent religion. Read the Qur’an — you’ll find plenty of belligerence there. And if you object that the Old Testament is belligerent, too, look then all the imams calling for jihad. And how many Muslims stood up to protest the widespread jubilation in the Middle East that ensued after 9/11, or stood up to defend the right of Danish newspapers to publish cartoons mocking Mohamed?


Got it; we're not in favor of stereotyping individuals, just of stereotyping entire populations generally. One wonders how long Coyne's list of "all the imams calling for jihad" is; how many instances did he bother to collect before he said, "Oh, yes, this is clear evidence that Islam is an intrinsically belligerent religion." A thousand? A hundred? Or is it just a vague sense that they are everywhere, derived from watching the news? Has Coyne actually researched this matter, and is just not sharing the research itself? I'd be interested in such research; which imams? Is there a lack of clear regional association (since if calls for jihad tend to be associated only with particular regions of the world, or emigrants from those regions, that would indicate that it can't be evidence for intrinsic belligerence even if there are lots of imams making those calls)? Is it evenly, or at least widely, distributed among Sunni and Shi'a and smaller Islamic sects? Are there any stable, long-term movements that are exceptions? It's extremely difficult to imagine that the Chishtiya or the Mawlawi or the Qadiris or the Mourides are going about belligerently calling for jihad, for instance. Well, I seem to remember that the Mourides do call for jihad, the jihad al-'aqbar (Great Jihad), which consists of trying to win over others through hard work, example, prayer, and study, which I suppose might be considered a kind of belligerence in a world of complete paranoia. Are there any Sufis really going around insisting on killing people? That would be interesting to know; if even Sufis were widely belligerent that would pretty much clinch the argument that Islam is intrinsically belligerent. I really would have to see the proof, though; a vague bit of handwaving, with a few rhetorical questions that are probably not based on actual study of the matter, is not a replacement for evidence.

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