Secular Islam Summit: Reason, Not Revelation

Day 1: Sunday March 4, 2007
Author Ibn Warraq led off the summit today.
Senior Research Fellow

Ibn Warraq being interviewed by Andrew Marcus an independent filmmaker at the Secular Islam Summit.
Look for the video at Pajamas!

Ibn Warraq is the leadoff speaker at the Secular Islam Summit. He is the author of several books on Islam including:

**Why I Am Not a Muslim, Ibn Warraq, foreword by R. Joseph Hoffmann, Prometheus Books, 1995, hardcover, 428 pages, ISBN 0-87975-984-4

**Leaving Islam: Apostates Speak Out, edited by Ibn Warraq, Prometheus Books, 2003, hardcover, 320 pages, ISBN 1-59102-068-9

**What the Koran Really Says: Language, Text, and Commentary, edited and translated by Ibn Warraq, Prometheus Books, 2002, 600 pages, ISBN 1-57392-945-X

**Quest for the Historical Muhammad, edited and translated by Ibn Warraq, Prometheus Books, 2000, hardcover, 554 pages, ISBN 1-57392-787-2

**Origins of the Koran: Classic Essays on Islam’s Holy Book, edited by Ibn Warraq, Prometheus Books, 1998, hardcover, 420 pages, ISBN 1-57392-198-X

Warraq started off talking about the Free Speech Manifesto that was signed last year in Jyllands-Posten by 12 intellectuals.

The 12 individuals who signed the Manifesto of Free Speach were soon threatened with death by radical Islamists.

His prepared speech is titled:
Enlightenment Rather than Reformation
The root cause fallacy:
Islamic Terrorism is not caused by:
– Povery
– The War in Iraq
– Colonialism
– Slavery

Ibn Warraq – a senior research fellow at the Center for Inquiry specializing in Koranic criticism.
How to bring about enlightenment:
-Defend universal human rights
-Defend out values, Western values: maintain seperation of church and state

What Western Nations can do:
-Iran’s influence has been enormous
– the present regime must be toppled
– help students, trade unionists, and dissidents

Universal Human Rights
Creation of Human Rights Centers
-Push for the resturcturing of the UN Human Rights Commission:
* it is far too political
* unable to criticise Sudan in the south
* Commerorate genocide of Christians in Turkey

Defend the rights of non-Muslims, Apostates, and Atheists

Defend the rights of Women

Criticism of Islamic States, Statesmen and mullahs:

-Fatwas: In the west we must be able to take mullahs to court
-More assertiveness in taking Muslim leaders to task
-Demand the rewriting of Saudi testbooks preaching hatred of the West
-Fund exhibitions in Museums of Pre-Islamic Civilizations of Iran, Iraq, and North Africa

Why do they hate us? …Because they are taught to hate us!

We Must Defend our Values
Defend Western Civilizationa
What we can do:
Trade union must suppory their counterparts in Islamic countries, as well as:
– Womens groups
– Homosexuals
– Humanists must support Human Rights workers in jail in Islamic countries

What the State can do:
-Fund Ex-Pat Secular groups (eg: Iranian groups such as not to political Islam)
– Defend rights of women
– No to female genital mutilation
– No to segregation of Muslim girls from school activities
– No to segregation of Muslim girls in public swimming pools
– No to forced marriages against girl’s wishes
– All women must be protected of the state

Irshad Manji spoke next and gave a very powerful presentation…

“Faith Without Fear” her television special debuts April 19th on PBS.
Here one possible segment from the special, via Irshad’s website Muslim Refusnik:

For more on “Faith Without Fear” check out Irshad’s website- Muslim Refusnik.
Here is more background on the special:

Irshad Manji is the internationally best-selling author of The Trouble with Islam Today: A Muslim’s Call for Reform in her Faith. Through a new lens, this questioning Muslim takes a journey to reconcile her faith in Allah with her love of freedom. Along the way, she reveals the personal risks — emotional and physical — that come with such an urgent mission. The result is FAITH WITHOUT FEAR.

Trekking through the Arabian peninsula, Manji speaks with Osama bin Laden’s former bodyguard, who explains why he’s willing to turn his young son into a martyr. She also engages a California convert to Islam who now lives in Yemen and says that by covering her body and face, she’s exercising American-style freedom of religion. But is it really freedom if you’ll be punished for not covering? Manji meets one Yemeni woman who faces a steep price for rejecting the rules. Through them, Manji discovers what she thinks has corrupted a religion of justice to become an ideology of fear. She can relate: Her own home has bullet-proof windows.

Why Irshad does what she does?
Because…
Courage is not the absence of fear…
Courage is the recognition that some things are more important than fear.
“I have a call to head my conscience no matter who is affected.”

What is the proper form of Islam in the government?
We as Muslims have the right to test different forms of government.
Secularism- makes room for varying ideas- theocracy does not involve varying ideas

The Koran- maintains 3 times as many verses to think than it does to obey.
G. W. Bush- is today himself a victim of “the soft bigotry of low expectations.”
Muslims are capable of better than theocracy in Iraq. Yet, the new constitution includes too much thoecratic ideals.

Faith never needs to be threatened by doubt.
Dogma is always threatened by doubt.

The most furious letters I get come from “missionary atheists” and “dogma Muslims.”
Missionary atheists want us to ditch faith for science.
Just because this summit won’t be covered by network programs does not mean that it didn’t take place!
Tension between religion and secular lifestyle keeps my mind questioning.
Religion has taught me to bow to no one.

The Bottom line: Religion is a lot like technology- We can become slaves to each or havest each for good- We are using the best of Islam when we promote critical thinking in Islam.

** This spring we are launching a website to debate Islam!
Our work is already beginning.
We already have one former radical who is working with us- He was invited back into the flock of radicalism – He prayed for inspiration. He stumbled across the Islam page on BBC and found the interview I gave to the BBC.
And, he discovered these two points:

1- It is entirely acceptable to ask questions in Islam.
2- He was not alone

Irshad Manji

The website will be for Muslims and non-Muslims to come together and ask questions.
All questions will be on the table.
This will outrage the young radicals so much that they will come to debate the issues. This we hope will be an opportunity for there to start being a dialogue and tolerance within Islam for different views.
radical traditionalists.

This is a call in the spirit of Islam.

Previously:
Live Blogging From the 2007 Secular Islam Summit

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