To accept the proposition, however, is to move toward the
position that there is no “knowledge” only “opinion” and “experience”. “It is
all Islamic life experience” an educated Islamic leader once remarked. “Until
you have experience with Islamic life, you are unable to discuss the meaning of
Jihad and Islamic history”.
These statements and questions are intended to act like a
silencer. It can bring rational discussion about the brutal past of Muslims and
Jihadi terrorism to a stop. It can inhibit discussion before it begins about
Islamic fundamentalism and Jihadi terrorism. This vague talk and faulty logic
about “Islamic experience” has erroneous subversive power. The question is
posed to discredit non-believers.
This state of mind of fundamentalist Muslims can lead to a
sort of whimsical talk. It means Muslim fundamentalist leaders are afraid to
look at what they are doing, practicing and preaching. Muslim radical leaders
use “Islamic life experience” as a term of contempt for reason and knowledge.
Even to ask the question, “Are you a Muslim?” takes a lot of courage and means
a shortcut to denial.
There are powerful implications in such questions. One is
that experience with Islamic life distorts facts. It is a false assumption that
only a practicing Muslim can understand Islamic Jihad and its history.
Fundamentalist Muslim leaders to dismiss knowledge and reasoning frequently use
Islamic life experience.
Like all relativistic, dogmatic, irrational arguments, this
one is faulty. In any case, “experience with Islamic life” is less credible. It
is to be discredited simply by identifying its origin. Running to “Islamic
experience and faith” is running away from the whole business of truth seeking.
It is blinking the issue of the brutal past of Islam and the atrocities
committed by Jihadi terrorists. Jihadi terrorists, suicide bombers and
fundamentalist preachers have “Islamic experience”. Who in the world would deny
that? They might sensibly boast of it. They offer their “Islamic experience”
without rational analysis or in total ignorance of their past history.
I do not want to deny religious experience of Muslim
radicals but only suggest that the assumption that “Islamic belief” is where we
start and never where we end is enormously unsafe.
One can gain knowledge and insight about Islamic theocracy
without believing in Koranic concepts or practicing Islamic dictates. A view
might be acquired with no experience, without belief at all, as most people
acquire the view that Jihadi terrorism and suicide bombing is wrong on no
experience of terrorism or bombing and, yet, prove dependable.
The assumption that belief and experience necessarily
underlies knowledge or the notion that all knowledge needs to be based on
practical experience is a fallacy. The Muslim radical’s fallacious argument is,
nonetheless, potent. “How do you know?” and “How can you tell us about Jihad
and Islam if you are not believer or practicing Muslim is really an impertinent
question. One can certainly know that Jihadi terrorism is dangerous. We know
that suicide bombing is dangerous. One would continue to believe that
fundamentalist; dogmatic Islam poses a threat to pluralism, secularism and
religious freedom without any Islamic religious experience or faith in Koranic
concepts. Any argument to discredit this proposition would be discredited even
before it is heard.
Muslim radical’s assumption about “Islamic faith and
experience” needs to be replaced with the idea of “coherence theory”. Coherence
theory proposes that knowledge and common views are seen to be true when they
cohere with other common views and historical facts one already holds and
accepts. Coherence theory accepts that in speaking of morality, we know what to
value and what to condemn. I shall expand the coherence theory with further
illustrations. Many of us have not witnessed the Islamic conquest of Constantinople or the destruction of Persian civilization
by Muslim invaders but are convinced with certainty, that these are historical
facts. This certainty is not irrational, and our knowledge would not be
reinforced even if I have converted to Islam. Many of us have not witnessed
suicide bombing but are utterly convinced that suicide bombing is inhuman and
they are mostly Muslims
We know that Jihadi terrorism, suicide bombing, kidnapping,
hijacking, coercive religious conversions are wrong. Our belief on these
criminal acts need not be grounded on any single argument, set of arguments, or
faith and experience.
To the Muslim fundamentalist’s challenge of “How do you know
about Islam?” or Are you a believer?” one need only answer that no answer to
that challenge is necessary. We know because the numerous considerations that
bear on the danger of Jihadi terrorism cohere and fit with worldview on that
A recent incident reminded me vividly of the marked validity
of coherence theory. On publishing a pamphlet on “Dangers of Coercive religious
Conversion”, I received comments from a number of Muslims arguing that
“freedom” means freedom to forcefully convert non-believers, freedom to impose
Islamic morality and Muslim jurisprudence. Perhaps, there is no single argument
by which one could refute that whimsical statement, but if I had to choose
between freedom from Islamic morality and freedom to believe in secularism, I
would choose the later without hesitation.
Muslim radicals may reply that my belief about freedom, secularism and my
religious belief fail to reflect the ontological concepts of Islam. This mirror
image is potent in the sense that it is widely accepted by Islamic
fundamentalists. It is also known as “correspondence theory”. It is often
assumed that one must believe in Islamic faith and experience Islamic life in
telling the truth about Islam. This also means one must have blind faith in
Islamic concepts in interpreting Jihadi terrorism. Though plausible, the
argument is inadequate and ultimately false.
Life of a Jihadi terrorist can be real, and then that life
in itself may not be the life one ought to live. Muslim fundamentalists and
Jihadis must transcend the narrow Islamic tunnel vision and see the real world
as a whole, it means that partial, dualistic and particular Islamic worldviews
are partial, narrow, rigid, inadequate, and false.
The impatience, hostility, tunnel vision, and cognitive
distortion are characteristic of Muslim fundamentalists. They are in a hurry to
discredit non-believers. “How do you know about Islam?” is less a question than
The task of convincing an Islamic radical the market
superiority of reason and knowledge over rigid, dualistic and false belief
system could take more time that a Muslim would be willing to give. A Muslim
will not stay for an answer or willing to be free. They are to be forced to
And to make them convince that the forefathers of Muslims of Bhaarat, Pakistan and Bangladesh were Hindus as Swami Subramanian has said many times and even has written this fact in articles and in books.