Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Qasim Rashid's Tasteless Independent Piece about Sex Abuse

I was appalled to see this article on Twitter the other day. I don't even have the words to express how tacky and distasteful this is. 

As the far-right rises in the West, I find myself more interested in pushing back against that (since it's more of an urgent issue impacting our day to day existence here).....than constantly criticizing Islam in a climate where Muslims are singled out, generalized and targeted. 

Nuanced and legitimate criticisms are lost anyway nowadays, to fear-mongering about Mooz-lums raping their way across the globe to secretly instill Shariah. 

But then there comes a situation where you just have to rebut something as stupid and insensitive as the article above...with all you've got. Hopefully, my rebuttal won't get lost with ignorant takes like: "Islam is worse than Nazism" or "90% of Muslims are ticking time-bombs"... here goes:  

With all the overuse and false accusations of "Regressive Left" floating around atheist twitter, its hard for an actual left-leaning person to recall a time when this term had meaning and referred to an actual problem.

Well, this article is a great reminder on how the left can utterly fail in the way it deals with the topic of Islam. I can't believe such an article was approved and put out by such a well known publication. What were they thinking? Who is making these decisions?

I mean...they may come from the perspective that they're doing this to offset the increasing anti-muslim bigotry, to normalize Muslims in a political climate where they become dehumanized more and more each day....but they can't seem to comprehend that defending Muslims can be separated from championing Islam.

Before seeing this one, I came across quite a few tasteless takes regarding the awful Weinstein scandal. It seemed everywhere I looked someone was hijacking it to further their own agenda. A few standard "Oh you think Weinstein is bad, but what about Islam...that's way worse!!" type takes from ex-muslims that I've become used to seeing....and cringing at.

Oh you think the alt right/white nationalism/nazism is bad? What about ISLAM - it's way worse!!"

It seems, that some are incapable of discussing anything other than that one topic (which makes it all the more off-putting for me). There's a time and a place....there's a way to acknowledge multiple problems without minimizing the suffering of Weinstein's victims. This isn't to say, of course that when the conversation is turned towards sexual abuse that we cannot also bring up other forms that people often let slide.... especially when religion gets a pass on everything. I saw some Saudi feminists bring up some important points about how migrant domestic workers are assaulted on an everyday basis in Saudi society by privileged Saudi men...who get away with it. But they didn't do the, "Oh you think Weinstein is bad? Well Saudi men can be WAY worse" thing....where they bring the other topic to light only by minimizing the harm that Weinstein did.

That is the that many 'but what about Islam' types don't understand.

"Yes we have similar problems too which we need to discuss" is a whole lot different from "Oh, Pfft, this? It's nothing compared to the cause *I've* dedicated *my* life to.

And you know what, no one's perfect we're all likely to fall into that trap accidentally sometimes... but the ones who have a distinct repeated pattern of constantly being unable to address any issue without the added, "but what about Islam/The left" have become incredibly unhelpful voices.

...Speaking of unhelpful and cringeworthy voices though..I have to say Qasim Rashid, the author of the Independent piece is one of the worst I've encountered on this issue. The 'but what about Islam' takes are bad, but fuck....using a sex scandal to spread religious propaganda, to *proselytize*.... is a whole new level of scummy.

Not only is it scummy but he goes about it in the most dishonest way. Yes we should absolutely encourage liberal, progressive interpretations of Islam. I find it incredibly unhelpful when people hold every liberal muslim to an 'ISIS purity test', that basically no one passes...and therefore the only 'real' muslims are the extremists. That is not a good approach.

But, when it comes to more progressive interpretations of religion there are those who acknowledge the plurality and plausibility of multiple interpretations. They admit that some verses are just not ok by today's values. People like Qasim however will argue that everyone else has it wrong... they've misinterpreted and HE somehow has the correct interpretation. They cherry pick without acknowledging they are cherry picking, unlike more honest reformists who openly say that cherry picking is the path forward.

Like all the Abrahamic religions, obviously...Islam too is full of contradictory crap er...stuff. So naturally you can pick a bunch of things that sound alright, or you can pick a bunch of things that sound barbaric. But if you really want to look at the whole picture you can't ignore either...both anti-muslims and apologists for scripture like to ignore the aspect convenient to their narrative and push the other.

"Islam is PURE EVIL" or "Islam is PERFECT and PEACEFUL and FEMINIST" ....

there are some pretty vile, murderous, misogynistic, hateful things in there...certainly some of that is 'evil'....but there are some alright bits that are cherry picked by modern progressive muslims, which makes most of them peaceful.

'Perfect', it certainly is not...'feminist'...nope. Be wary of anyone claiming either of those.

I mean its absurd on the face of it...morals from centuries ago are simply not going to work today. If you try to claim they are *perfect* for today, then you're endorsing or twisting some pretty awful shit.

Anyway.... *Cracks knuckles* Lets get into it....this fuckin' article. What a crock of shit.

"My advocacy is informed not just by the law, but by strategies detailed in Islamic teachings and Prophet Muhammad’s example to pre-empt sexual abuse."

Almost spit my beverage all over my keyboard...thanks for that Qasim.

Would Mo's example pre-empt sexual abuse here?

From Sahih Bukhari
Slavery too....if defined by scripture is permissible in Islam....and slaves were to accept that owners are allowed to sleep with them at will. As stated in Quran 33:50

Obviously this is not a practice any decent Muslim would endorse today, but if you want to go by Mo's example...then it's worth mentioning. It would be one thing to make some excuse about it being a different time....and the example not measuring up by today's values... but if you are going to literally say a sex slave owner's values are what can prevent sexual abuse....I'm going to have a thing or two to say. Yes such slavery predates Islam, and so continued under Islam...I am not a fan of people using archaic texts to define an entire diverse group by today. So no this is not for you far-righters who paint all muslims as pedophilic rapists.

What about this strategy detailed in the Quran, 4:34

Does making men in charge, commanding women to be obedient, and giving permission to 'strike them' also pre-empt sexual abuse?


I have to say I cringe a little while I'm picking out these verses to debunk this idiotic article, because I'm all too used to seeing how anti-muslims use these to dehumanize and generalize Muslims who may not even be aware of such verses. I know many like myself were taught curated versions of scripture.

Religion is full of this kind of nonsense.... slavery, stoning babies, virgins...killing people who disobey...fathers ok-ing rape of their daughters for a few $$. Islam is certainly not alone in this, so think twice before painting Muslims with a broad brush. I cannot say that enough, especially in the Trumpian era.


"Let’s start by understanding two facts. First, a woman’s attire, alcohol intake, marital status, and education level do not contribute to sexual abuse – abusive men do. Second, sexual abuse doesn’t happen in a vacuum. Every level of society – social norms, media, and Government – is complicit in promoting the rape culture that perpetuates sexual abuse."

"Social norms demonise a woman for speaking out, victim-blaming her by asking what she was wearing, whether she gave signals inviting abuse, or asking why she didn’t speak up sooner."

Very good Qasim...I'm glad you pointed out that a woman's attire doesn't matter. But the Quran (24:31) seems to disagree,

Here it tells believing women not to flaunt their assets, and even wrap a portion of their headscarves/outer garments over their chests. Clearly a woman's attire mattered to Allah, and therefore Mo quite a bit.

(24:60) only postmenstrual woman are allowed to cast out their 'outer garments' even then being careful not to display any 'adornment':

So Qasim, when you talk about social norms demonizing a woman, victim-blaming her by asking her what she was wearing....perhaps look honestly at the things you yourself recommended to 'pre-empt' sexual abuse. Laughable really.

Don't even get me started on the punishments Islam prescribes someone for I'm pretty sure marital status matters too. You're right when you say every level of society can be complicit in promoting a culture that perpetuates abuse....but you conveniently miss out religion - old value systems that simply didn't classify abuse in the same way we do now.

If you want to be a women's advocate, how about not preaching a misogynistic religion to them while they open up about their painful abuse experiences.

"state laws only punish the actor once the act is completed, they don’t prevent the act in the first place. This scenario plays out repeatedly worldwide, whether we’re discussing “revenge porn”, gender based violence, or sexual harassment in the workplace.

This is where Islamic teachings and Prophet Muhammad’s example provide a solution that no state truly can. "
What the fuck, dude. What are you even trying to say here? While you're right that banning cat calling won't work, and that it isn't preventative... what's your solution? Islam and Mohammed? Are you for fucking real right now? Are you saying that being fearful of some god that would burn you for eternity and that following in the footsteps of a prophet who's example isn't known for his fair treatment of women, who owned slaves...and consummated with a child is what will prevent sex abuse better than modern man-made law?! 

Right because religious people NEVER sexually abuse anyone....if only they had had access to the teachings if Islam and the example of Mo.

It's embarrassing really, to even debunk this.

Read story here

"Yes, Islam implores accountability to the creator, but rather than preach empty dogmatic theories, Islam instead prescribes a proven secular model."

What are you even on about? Accountability to the creator? How old are you... how well has that worked to prevent religious people from sexually abusing people or committing any crimes?

Secular model? What?

"Thus, the Quran 4:2 first establishes men and women as equal beings. Chapter 4:20 then forbids men from forcing a woman to act against her will, thereby ensuring women maintain autonomy and self-determination. "

Now, just because theres some contradictory more benign seeming stuff in there... doesn't mean you can ignore the wife beating verse (4:34), where aside from the 'strike them' literally says this:

"Men are in charge of women by [right of] what Allah has given one over the other"

Or how about the women are your farmland... plough them however you like (just don't do anal tut tut) verse (2:223)?

I mean, I hate to put on my "let me point out all the awful verses in the Quran/Hadith" hat right now, because I know the alt/far-right loves that stuff and uses it to stir hatred for whole groups which include people like me and my family. But in the face of this tasteless absurdity, I cannot remain silent. I can only hope I put enough "I dislike anti-muslims" caveats in here that it prevents them from latching on to this particular piece.

I'm not alone in feeling that my criticism of Islam is sort of stifled at the moment because it's too easily hijacked by bigots, anyone with a shred of decency is feeling that right now.

Anyway, back to this unfckingbelievably ridiculous piece. I honestly can't wrap my head around how awful it is..and what kind of person you'd have to be to write something like this, especially in the midst of a high profile hollywood sex scandal. "Here..... stop fussing about this sex scandal...and listen to all the good things about MY religion, one that has a bad reputation for it's treatment of women"

....Oh ok @ssh*le.  -___-

Aaand it gets a whole lot worse than I imagined. Qasim actually links to a previous even more nauseating piece he did about THE WIFE BEATING VERSE FFS, where it's a bunch of the most pathetic and weak twisted apologetics for 4:34, and it's actually titled:

"The Islamic Solution to *stop* Domestic Violence" [emphasis mine]

I can't....I have to take a break.....I walk away from the computer, pour a drink, take a breath.

Alright, I'm back...What was I saying?

Oh yeah...

His fucking *solution* is the verse that says men are in charge of women and you can strike them. THAT, to him is pre-empting domestic violence.. because by making men in charge it gives them some responsibilities and shit. He's thrilled it doesn't go straight to beating....this is a good thing apparently....An 'anger management strategy' - what the actual fuck is wrong with this guy and how is he allowed to pump this shit out in mainstream liberal publications like Huffpo and Independent??

And I quote, from the Huffpo piece,

"Pre-emptive deterrence is the key. And this precisely is the wisdom behind verse 4:34 to decrease and stop violence against women. The verse in its totality describes a process of restraint, anger management and reformation."

'Wisdom' he says...About an infantilizing, abusive verse that clearly doesn't hold women in high regard. Just because it doesn't jump straight to the beating, it's a process of restraint. Fucking hell.

"Employed effectively, these two steps help reconcile the vast majority of domestic disputes. Should the first two steps fail, however, the Quran allows — never commands — men to consider the third step, translated as “to chastise them.”

Look, it *allows* --- it doesn't *command* you to 'chastise' your wife. (since the beating isn't compulsory...that makes it totally ok)

Firstly Qasim, slick replacement of strike with 'chastise'. Secondly, obviously this is only for the rarest of times...for when the first two infantilizing and humiliating methods don't work on her (that totally excuses the fact that u can resort to know... beating her)

If the first two steps don't sort out your domestic dispute, it's because you didn't employ these perfect strategies 'effectively'....

Of course then his article delves into semantic bullshit about how the word for strike isn't actually that. Nothing I haven't heard before...but I haven't come across anyone with the audacity to argue they are progressive *and* suggest the wife beating verse as a goddamn *solution* to domestic violence.

There are many Muslims who genuinely acknowledge that this verse is not palatable today....Qasim is not one of them. He would rather twist it to say it means the opposite of what it says in mainstream interpretations of the Quran. He'd rather appear dishonest in front of anyone who knows anything about Islam.

This doesn't help Muslims, or their reputation...quite the opposite in fact. So I sincerely don't understand why left leaning publications put out stuff like this.

All this does is breathe fire into anti-muslim movements. It energizes them, gives them something to rally around.


Sorry I went off into a rabbit hole there for a bit, so enough about the horrid Huffpo piece, and back on to the horrid Independent one....where were we...

"And when it comes to the Islamic concept of Hijab, it is men who are first commanded to never gawk at women, and instead guard their private parts and chastity, regardless of how women choose to dress – pre-empting sexual abuse."

I just love how he selectively points to the male requirements for modesty, saying that it tells men to lower their gaze... but he completely skips over the modesty requirements for women. You know, what hijab is literally KNOWN for? Slut-shaming women into covering head to toe and holding them responsible for provoking mention of the double standards about what men are required to do vs women. Of course men are commanded first because the whole Quran refers only to men directly (with a couple of exceptions)...when it refers to women it is in third person or via men..."tell your women/wives" type stuff.

The Quran isn't some great feminist book, it puts men first because it only talks to *them* directly.

"Accordingly, the Prophet Muhammad by example demonstrated that the burden of modesty, respect, and combating abuse of women rests on men. Indeed, men must take the lead in stopping such sexual abuse."

Oh COME ON, the guy who married a six year old and had slaves? I really hate to sound like a broken record here... but Qasim is being one, so I need to keep repeating the obvious.

"After all, while the Quran obliges women to dress modestly as a covenant with God, Islam prescribes no punishment whatsoever for women who choose to dress otherwise."

Oh yeah totally, it's just an afterthought that the Quran obliges women to dress modestly...nothing to do with placing the blame on them for enticing men. Oh and the Quran doesn't describe the details of Salaat/prayer I guess that must not be Islamic either.

Here's a verse specifically commanding the wives of the prophet to stay home and not display themselves if they want to be 'purified' (funny thing is, this is one of like 2 or so verses that directly address women, and it's to tell them to not put themselves on display! Imagine that.)

O wives of the Prophet, you are not like anyone among women. If you fear Allah, then do not be soft in speech [to men], lest he in whose heart is disease should covet, but speak with appropriate speech.

And abide in your houses and do not display yourselves as [was] the display of the former times of ignorance. And establish prayer and give zakah and obey Allah and His Messenger. Allah intends only to remove from you the impurity [of sin], O people of the [Prophet's] household, and to purify you with [extensive] purification.

And 33:59 spells it out clearly, women of the believers....cover yourselves so you aren't abused.

Just because the book hasn't specifically prescribed a beating in *this* situation... (I mean... a lot could be covered under 'disobedient wives') - doesn't mean that the general climate of "stay at home, do not put yourselves on display... or else you won't be pure" crap isn't pressuring women with the threat of hellfire.

"women in Islam rise to the rank of legal scholars, warriors, entrepreneurs, and philanthropists while lovingly embracing identities as mothers and housewives.
Weinstein is a symptom of the greater disease of arrogance, unaccountability, societal apathy, and from men who knew of the abuse but did nothing. Islam and Prophet Muhammad provide a practical solution."
Oh ffs, a man who ok-ed wife beating and keeping them at home, married a child and thought women could be owned as slaves does NOT provide a practical solution to sexual abuse. You're an embarrassment Qasim. 
So shameless...
"Together, we can employ a proven Islamic model that will stop this madness, and re-invoke gender equity today in America, and the world."
Who is he preaching to? How did the Independent let this happen, this is like a lecture you'd hear at Islamic Sunday School....does no one understand that this kind of horrific dishonesty, easily debunked....does nothing to help muslims. 
It's a real shame this man gets a platform like this. I'll say again, who approved this and what were they thinking? Who is the audience they hoped to reach with "together lets employ an Islamic model to stop sexual abuse"? This is some bullshit 'religious right' propaganda....get it together Independent. 
I'm all out of facepalms. I think that's all I got for today. 
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