“Not all Muslims are terrorists! Not all Muslims are extremists! It’s a tiny minority who want to stone adulterous women, execute apostates, and toss homosexuals off roofs! Oh, and by the way, Dylan Roof wasn’t a Muslim!”
Anyone who has ever taken the time to criticize Islam has heard these sorts of arguments. Often, they’re made by Muslims themselves. But in many cases, they are made by non Muslim “apologists” or, as I call them, the useful idiots of cultural and political Jihad.
First of all, let us acknowledge that the idea of a tiny radical minority of Muslims is a complete fabrication. There are massive numbers of Muslims in Africa, India, and of course the Middle East who hold positions that most in the Western world would find extreme. And even in countries like the United States, which currently have a very small Muslim population, Muslims commit a vastly disproportionate number of terrorist attacks.
Second of all, even if 0.01 percent (a laughably low-ball assumption, if you look at the data cited above) out of 1.6 billion people will go on to commit acts of terrorism, that is still 160,000 terrorists. Imagine 160,000 Berlin truck attacks. 160,000 Pulse nightclub shootings. 160,000 Boston bombings. Even small, individual, disorganized terrorist violence can cause mass chaos.
These are not refugees. This is a foreign army in the Netherlands. pic.twitter.com/jB8w8kBdFl
— PeterSweden (@PeterSweden7) March 12, 2017
Third of all, none of this ultimately matters.
Because even if you share all of these statistics and basic logical analysis of the Islamic terror problem, those who oppose you can still throw out their go-to “attack”:
“You could say the same thing about any other group! Why do we always focus on Islam! Christians commit acts of terrorism. Hindus commit acts of terrorism. Atheists commit acts of terrorism!”
This is why I do not only point out the numbers when debating this topic. While the numbers are important to the discussion, engaging with this logical fallacy in this way often leads to the observing audience siding with the Muslim apologist. After all, it sounds logical on the surface, the same way most logical fallacies tend to.
However, there is, in my view, a better way to argue about the nature of “extremism” in Islam.
Islamist “scholars” and apologists are usually wilfully dishonest (Taqiyya, anyone?), and non-Muslim apologists are excruciatingly ignorant.
For those of you haven’t wasted hundreds of hours of your life arguing on the internet as I have, a quick primer on why the “Not All Muslims Are Like That” argument is fallacious.
The No True Scotsman fallacy is defined in this way:
“You made what could be called an appeal to purity as a way to dismiss relevant criticisms or flaws of your argument. In this form of faulty reasoning one’s belief is rendered unfalsifiable, because no matter how compelling the evidence is, one simply shifts the goalposts so that it wouldn’t apply to a supposedly ‘true’ example. This kind of post-rationalization is a way of avoiding valid criticisms of one’s argument.”
You probably hear these arguments on a near daily basis, and most of us are guilty of making them from time to time. Here is an example of this fallacy in action from the Logically Fallacious website:
“In 2011, Christian broadcaster, Harold Camping, (once again) predicted the end of the world via Jesus, and managed to get many Christians to join his alarmist campaign. During this time, and especially after the Armageddon date had passed, many Christian groups publicly declared that Camping is not a true Christian.”
Now, back to Islam, and more importantly, to Muhammad.
Those who criticize Islam do not often realize it, but we stand with a drawn arrow next to the Achilles heel of Islam. It is almost funny to see Islamist apologists attempt to use the No True Scotsman fallacy – when Muhammad invented Scotland and crowned himself the king of the Scots!
There have been hundreds of thousands of words written about Muhammad and his teachings. I am not a religious scholar, nor do I need to be. I only need to know a couple of things about Muhammad to make my arguments.
And two, that Muhammad committed acts that should be condemned by the entirety of civilized society. A few examples: Muhammad was a Jihadist war lord, married Ayesha at the age of six and consummated their marriage when she was nine (he was 51), had sex slaves and permitted his followers to do so, beheaded and tortured his opponents… the list goes on and on.
The vast majority of Muslims do not dispute nor disavow these actions by their prophet, either. Some are just more honest in how they view acts of “extremism” within Islam. The usual argument is simple: anything evil is not Islam. Terrorism has nothing to do with Islam. Raping children has nothing to do with Islam. Wife beating has nothing to do with Islam.
These statements can be true if, and only if, Muhammad has nothing do with Islam.
We are not talking about a random man in the desert over a thousand years ago, in a different culture where barbaric acts were commonplace. We are not even talking about one of Muhammad’s close followers. We are talking about a man who supposedly received Holy messages from the angel Gabriel. We are talking about a man who gave the world the Qu’ran, which is entirely inerrant and infallible, the literal teachings of Allah.
When we say that ISIS does not represent Islam, we must look within Islam’s own framework to decide whether or not this is true. When we use this honest approach, we see that not only are members of ISIS Muslim, they are far closer to the True Scotsman, the true example, and the one who Muslims are called to base their lives upon.
Therefore, one of two things must be true about Muhammad.
Either A) Muhammad has nothing to do with Islam, and therefore Islam is an entirely false religion on par with the Flying Spaghetti monster. If Muhammad is not truly the perfect Muslim, as the Qu’ran says, then the Qu’ran must be false. If the Qu’ran is false, the entire ideology of Islam is the invention of a power-hungry, money-hungry, sex-hungry narcissist sitting in a cave.
B) Muhammad is the example of the True Scotsman and the perfect Muslim, and therefore all acts of terror, wife beating, child rape, stoning of adulterous women, throwing homosexuals off of roofs, etcetera are inherently Islamic, and those who commit such acts are the true Muslims.
Answer A is several shades less horrifying, and also the one I happen to believe, but my opinion on the matter has little bearing.
Answer B is the only accurate view a Muslim can hold while maintaining logical credibility.
The Islamic state, and other so called “radical” Islamic groups, do exactly what Muhammad did, and are therefore truly Islamic.
If an Islamic enlightenment is possible, it must begin with admitting this simple fact. Until Muslims en masse accept this, we will never see a “Religion of Peace”.