The ‘expose’ – from embarrassing to downright stupid


by Sunny
27th July, 2009 at 8:47 pm    

The attempt to smear Mehdi Hasan from the New Statesman goes from the absurd to the farcical. First, a writer on HP (Brownie) accepts that perhaps the original piece was a bit over-blown. Then, the second installment drops the word ‘exposed’. C’mon guys – where is your sense of conviction? I thought you were unleashing on to the world all the nasty things Mehdi Hasan has done or said?

Instead, it offers a desperate bunch of quotes pic’n'mixed from different sources, essentially saying: Look this guy disagrees with us! How dare a left-wing magazine offer him space!? This from a blog that was cheer-leading the invasion of Iraq (and its main writers still refuse to accept what a monumental fuck-up that was) giving other people lectures on how lefties should behave. Got to admire their chutzpah!

There is this gem though where our ‘insider’ jumps on quote by Hasan:

We have ten to our name despite the fact that we are 1.2 billion Muslims. Our Jewish brethren who we spend so much time fighting and arguing with: 12 million Jews in the world and 150 nobel prizes to their name.

You might think he’s saying that Jews are our brethren and that we should learn from them by investing in education. No? Apparently, our Islamist-under-the-bed finders come out with:

And why does he believe it necessary to bring talk of Jews, battles and fighting into a talk about Muslim education? The answer, so it appears to me, is because he believes that “the kaffar” are actively opposed to Islam and Muslims, and he believes the “Muslim world” must prepare to defend themselves.

Why bring Jews and fighting into the same sentence? He must want to annihilate them! Terrorist!! In fact, I’m still confused here – what is Harry’s Place exposing him as? At least one view expressed by a commenter was not deleted or even challenged

Field
In the light of this, can those of us who contribute to this site from the Islamosceptic wing please have an apology for being described as paranoid, racist, petty-minded, hateful, obsessed and all the rest when we have pointed out the nature of mainstream Islam and the taqqiya that goes with it.

As I said earlier, it’s obvious the sort of paranoia that Harry’s Place is deliberately feeding into.


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  1. Boyo — on 27th July, 2009 at 9:06 pm  

    Sunny, is this a contest to see who can quote most out of context? He continues the quotation …

    “All Israel’s top 6 universities feature in the top 200 universities on earth – none of the Muslim world’s top universities feature in top 100 or 200 universities in the world and then we wonder why we are losing battles – we are not being out-fought we are being out-thought. We are not underarmed. We are undereducated.”

  2. Boyo — on 27th July, 2009 at 9:08 pm  

    I mean, I am not suggesting for a moment that he is of the same ilk, but one could imagine the leader of Hamas saying the same thing. Perhaps he should ;-)

  3. Ravi Naik — on 27th July, 2009 at 9:17 pm  

    “We know that keeping the moral high-ground is key. Once we lose the moral high-ground we are no different from the rest, of the non-Muslims; from the rest of those human beings who live their lives as animals, bending any rule to fulfil any desire.”

    Mehdi Hasan really likes to compare non-Muslims to animals, doesn’t he? He is not as bad as HuT, but quite frankly…

  4. marvin — on 27th July, 2009 at 9:18 pm  

    So it’s all a ‘smear’ and he did not call me people ‘kaffir’ and ‘like cattle’???

  5. The Common Humanist — on 27th July, 2009 at 9:22 pm  

    “”“We know that keeping the moral high-ground is key. Once we lose the moral high-ground we are no different from the rest, of the non-Muslims; from the rest of those human beings who live their lives as animals, bending any rule to fulfil any desire.””

    Ok, so, what exactly is the context I am supposed to see here apart from that he think that I, as a non-muslim, live like an animal?

    Am open to persuasion but it doesn’t look good at the moment.

    Does anyone have any help to offer?

  6. The Common Humanist — on 27th July, 2009 at 9:23 pm  

    One and All,

    “”"”“We know that keeping the moral high-ground is key. Once we lose the moral high-ground we are no different from the rest, of the non-Muslims; from the rest of those human beings who live their lives as animals, bending any rule to fulfil any desire.””

    Ok, so, what exactly is the context I am supposed to see here apart from that he think that I, as a non-muslim, live like an animal?

    Am open to persuasion but it doesn’t look good at the moment.

    Does anyone have any help to offer?

  7. Paul Moloney — on 27th July, 2009 at 9:23 pm  

    Hasan: “All Israel’s top 6 universities feature in the top 200 universities on earth- none of the Muslim world’s top universities feature in top 100 or 200 universities in the world and then we wonder why we are _losing battles_”

    HP Bloke: “And why does he believe it necessary to bring talk of Jews, _battles_ and fighting into a talk about Muslim education? ”

    Sunny: “Why bring Jews and fighting into the same sentence?”

    Why indeed? Perhaps you can direct the question at Hasan himself.

    P.

  8. The Common Humanist — on 27th July, 2009 at 9:24 pm  

    Sorry for the double post – wireless connection issue!

    TCH

  9. Boyo — on 27th July, 2009 at 9:30 pm  

    It is perhaps the phrase in which he refers to the rest of us as animals which is on reflection most chilling. It is reminiscent of Nazi propaganda.

    Watch how the Jews are driven back by “culturally superior elements”. How they “differ from us in body an soul”. “Parallel to these Jewish wanderings throughout the world is the migration of a similar animal…”

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fwsySS2EzgU

    The parallels are actually quite shocking.

  10. Sunny — on 27th July, 2009 at 10:01 pm  

    Ha ha!

    I love it. Suddenly our right-wing commenters have found political correctness.

    We are not underarmed. We are undereducated.”

    Are you worried about Muslims educating themsevles Boyo?

    Why indeed? Perhaps you can direct the question at Hasan himself.

    Only if you’re the kind of guy who sees a negative connotation to anything said by a Muslim.

  11. Shatterface — on 27th July, 2009 at 10:04 pm  

    I don’t see that it’s necessarily the case that EITHER HP or Mehdi are in the right here.

  12. Shatterface — on 27th July, 2009 at 10:08 pm  

    ‘…bending any rule to fulfil any desire.’

    Actually, it’s only the ability to bend the rules to fit our desires which seperates us from the animals.

  13. Sunny — on 27th July, 2009 at 10:19 pm  

    It is perhaps the phrase in which he refers to the rest of us as animals which is on reflection most chilling. It is reminiscent of Nazi propaganda.

    And I was waiting how long before someone would bring in the Nazi reference. Bizarrely enough – you don’t apply that to the comments made underneath that article Boyo – which would echo the sentiments of Nazis more closely. I suppose that’s called whataboutery.

    Another point though, he used that word ‘cattle’ on Muslims too. He must hate everyone eh?

  14. Sunny — on 27th July, 2009 at 10:23 pm  

    Ah crap – I deleted an absurd comment by our friend MixTogether… which I should have kept for reference.

    Apparently I’m “Jew-baiting” for using the word “Chutzpah” (which he couldn’t spell properly) – and not because it’s a popular word.

    Of course! I’m brown! I sometimes defend Muslims! I must hate Jews! It’s obvious innit! That’s the kind of amazing analysis you get from Britain’s top anti-racist campaigner. Brilliant. Dammit, I should have kept that comment. Perhaps MixTogether is still annoyed I withdrew my name from his campaign.

  15. MixTogether — on 27th July, 2009 at 10:27 pm  

    No need to censor my comments.

    I just asked what purpose it serves to bring the word ‘chutspa’ into this discourse, except to exploit the fact that HP has some Jewish contributors?

  16. Shatterface — on 27th July, 2009 at 10:29 pm  

    He described Muslims as ‘cattle’ only to the extent to which they act like non-Muslims. No matter how you dress that up, it’s a racist comment.

    HP will no doubt try to tar other Muslims with Mehdi’s comment but that doesn’t mean Mehdi wasn’t being offensive.

  17. Kieran — on 27th July, 2009 at 10:33 pm  

    Is it snobbish to hold Hasan to equal (some seem to think his ethnicity excuses him) or higher standard to Jade Goody, considering his professional career is based on communication, rather than Jade Goody’s who was thrust into the limelight based partly on asking whether East Anglia is a country. Paradoxically, insulting nearly everyone (including many Muslims, particularly non-Shia Muslims) is close to insulting no-one. If he had singled out particular group who have organisations and spokespeople to respond, he would have been in more trouble. I am surprised that there are those who criticised Jade Goody vehemently are now happy to defend this bigot.

    Ron Atkinson insulted Marcel Desailly off-air (except in the middle-east) in a sentence which amounted to a smaller proportion of time spent talking than Hasan’s tirade (as well as Carol Thatcher’s use of the term). Use of the N-word and G-word will get you sacked if you are a media personality; it isn’t necessary in either case for their prejudice to be dispayed consistently in a thesis for this to occur and neither were signed up members of the BNP (the question of whether Hasan is an Islamist, rather than just a plain racist wanker, is similarly irrelevant). Should use of the K-word and comparison of non-Muslims to animals be treated similarly? There is no debate that it is worse than Shilpa Poppadom and Shilpa Fuckawallah. The Spanish football manager, Luis Aragones, was criticised, rightly, over his motivational talk to Reyes by demeaning Thierry Henry’s ethnicity. If an English manager had said similar things then he would have be sacked (as Glenn Hoddle was for citing his version of religious Hindu dogma about disabled people). The liberal-left have created this climate in which overt prejudice is unacceptable (largely a good thing) but seem oddly reticent to apply the same sanctions when one of their own is caught (i.e Ken Livingstone, Tom Paulin and now Mehdi Hasan). Obviously, if you were to list those who have succumbed to the bouts of race/extremism hysteria (John Townend, Patrick Mercer, Glenn Hoddle, Carol Thatcher, James McGrath, Robert Kilroy-Silk, Jade Goody, Dilpazier Aslam), then the right generally loses out more often but the left shouldn’t think of itself as immune from the consequences. (Which in this case is scrutiny and opprobrium; I think that from now on hounding out of racists from their jobs should not be done at all if those that are “brown” get a pass.)

    Malcolm Gladwell spoke of the relative impact of racist statements, that saying a derogatory term of abuse for describing an ethnicity isn’t as bad as saying that ethnicity is of inherently lower intelligence. Whoops, no debate here then, Hasan managed to squeeze in both! Hasan’s situation should be dealt with in the context of what he said and not its relation to the anti-extremism agenda! If Hardeep Singh Kohli was sacked from the One Show would it inflame Sikhs; no, people would accept the principle of individual responsibility. Are you going to excuse the next white person guilty of racism in case the BNP make political capital out of it!

    Acknowledging the scientific achievements of the “non-Muslim world” in previous centuries isn’t an indication that he respects non-Muslims: it just shows he isn’t deluded over the recent history of science. Ask a member of the BNP to list five countries who have lead the world in electronics in the past few decades and chances are he or she would include Japan: this doesn’t mean that person respects Japanese people. The NS is irrelevant to all but 10 people in the country so this furore (outside of HP and NS) will blow over soon. Although, thanks to this HP’s piece, we will understand the impetus behind the change at NS if it suddenly switches its name to “Moo”, features glossy pictures for its readers to stare at unknowingly and comes with grass supplements.

  18. MixTogether — on 27th July, 2009 at 10:38 pm  

    Sunny for what it’s worth I would have taken you off my site by now anyway.

    You are a volatile misfit and a liability to any serious political enterprise.

    Labour must be gutted that your blogs are their best shot online.

  19. Sunny — on 27th July, 2009 at 11:24 pm  

    That’s nice MT. Now if only I cared what you actually think.

  20. Paul Moloney — on 27th July, 2009 at 11:37 pm  

    “Another point though, he used that word ‘cattle’ on Muslims too. He must hate everyone eh?”

    As I said before – and which you failed to respond to – he used the word about UNTHINKING Muslims.

    But that leaves us with that case that Muslims who start thinking are no longer considered cattle, while unfortunately, us atheists are always cattle, whether we think or not.

    Do you agree with him?

    P.

  21. Paul Moloney — on 27th July, 2009 at 11:58 pm  
  22. Sunny — on 28th July, 2009 at 12:13 am  

    But that leaves us with that case that Muslims who start thinking are no longer considered cattle, while unfortunately, us atheists are always cattle, whether we think or not.

    He may think that atheists who also think are not cattle. Hence the point about Muslims learning from the west.

    Incidentally, you’ve not addressed this earlier either. Is ‘Gentiles’ also racist? And secondly, when Richard Dawkins says all religion believers are sheep – would you see that as derogatory?

  23. Sunny — on 28th July, 2009 at 12:14 am  

    And lastly – and more importantly – what about the racist notion of Islamists under the bed that the HP blog feeds into? Highlighted of course by the comment above which was never deleted or even taken issue with. What do you think about that?

  24. Brownie — on 28th July, 2009 at 12:20 am  

    Another point though, he used that word ‘cattle’ on Muslims too. He must hate everyone eh?

    Sunny, how many times do people have to deal with this before you’ll accept it is no defence? He used “cattle” to describe *some* Muslims, specifically Muslims who behave like the kaffar….er, I mean non-believer.

    If I were presenting the case for the defence, I’d be keeping schtumm about this additional use of the term “cattle” rather than offering it as evidence of Hasan’s benign intent.

  25. Brownie — on 28th July, 2009 at 12:23 am  

    Richard Dawkins says all religion believers are sheep – would you see that as derogatory?

    Pretty much everything Dawkins says about theists is derogatory. I find his brand of fundamentalist atheism a complete turn-off. I’m on recrod to that effect on HP.

  26. Sunny — on 28th July, 2009 at 12:38 am  

    Have already responded to that point Brownie.

    In fact in the Sikh scriptures there are verses to the same effect – that unthinking people (who follow ritual) of whatever religion are like sheep or cattle. The point is not that they’re animals or sub-human, but that they don’t think for themselves.

  27. Brownie — on 28th July, 2009 at 12:38 am  

    And lastly – and more importantly – what about the racist notion of Islamists under the bed that the HP blog feeds into?

    It doesn’t, and you know it. But when you’re in a corner, this is pretty much what you do.

    Highlighted of course by the comment above which was never deleted or even taken issue with. What do you think about that?

    The ‘Field’ comment, right? You mean this bit:

    In the light of this, can those of us who contribute to this site from the Islamosceptic wing please have an apology for being described as paranoid, racist, petty-minded, hateful, obsessed and all the rest when we have pointed out the nature of mainstream Islam and the taqqiya that goes with it.

    I tell you what, Sunny: why don’t you ask Field about his relationship with the blog authors (and me in particular). I’ve called him on his fruitloopery more than a few times. This is a guy who thinks the McCanns are implicated in the disappearance of their own daughter, for feck’s sake. He’s a looney tune.

    Sunny, who do you think Field is demanding an apology from if not HP’s authors and commenters? He is writing on our blog addressing our contributors and commenters. The only logical conclusion of his comment is that he has been called all the names – on HP – that he is now asking us to apologise for.

    Yet you claim this is the “paranoia that Harry’s Place is *deliberately* feeding into” (my emphasis added). This couldn’t make less sense if you tried. How can HP be feeding into this paranoia if it is the HP commentariat and editors who are being asked to apologise for calling Field and his ilk all the names he lists?

    For once when it comes to our blog, can you not just be fair? If you continue down this line of insisting that we do things and think things that your own evidence contradicts, who’s going to take you seriously?

  28. Brownie — on 28th July, 2009 at 12:53 am  

    Oh, and you probably need to be careful about criticisms of the moderation policies on other blogs when your Hasan post on Liberal Conspiracy spawned a thread that contains a comment in which one poster makes an overt threat of violence against me that remains to this point.

    No doubt this is an innocent oversight on your part, given the comment in question is number 69 in the thread posted at 16:24 and you yourself have a comment a whole 18 minutes later at number 71.

    I guess you just missed that, huh?

  29. Leon — on 28th July, 2009 at 1:02 am  

    And so the tedious blog war with HP continues…yawn.

  30. Paul Moloney — on 28th July, 2009 at 1:12 am  

    “Is ‘Gentiles’ also racist?”

    What does that have to do with the word “cattle”?

    “And secondly, when Richard Dawkins says all religion believers are sheep – would you see that as derogatory?”

    Indeed I do. I mentioned early my wife was Catholic, or do you think I regard my wife as unthinking

    Guess what, Sunny? Athiesm is not a hierarchial religion, and Dawkins is not our pope.

    P.

  31. Sunny — on 28th July, 2009 at 1:22 am  

    comment in which one poster makes an overt threat of violence against me that remains to this point.

    Oh give me a break.

    If you continue down this line of insisting that we do things and think things that your own evidence contradicts, who’s going to take you seriously?

    You really are asking who will take me seriously given over the weekend HP published a post “exposing” Mehdi Hasan and twisting his comments completely out of context.

    I’m not worried about my reputation yet, thanks. But I appreciate your concern.

  32. Sunny — on 28th July, 2009 at 1:23 am  

    “Is ‘Gentiles’ also racist?”

    What does that have to do with the word “cattle”?

    It’s about how you address non-believers. I made this point in the original thread.

    PS – I’m not saying Dawkins is your pope – I’m merely pointing out parallels. Do you then believe Dawkins should not be published anywhere?

  33. Paul Moloney — on 28th July, 2009 at 1:38 am  

    “It’s about how you address non-believers.”

    The etymology of the words “Gentile” is from “clan” or “family”, and derives from a Latin word coined by non-Jews. Can you tell me what is meant to be inherently offensive about it? I’m all ready to be offended here; just tell me why I should be.

    “Do you then believe Dawkins should not be published anywhere?”

    Where did I say _Mehdi_ should not be published anywhere?

    Your method of debate seems to be to throw a chorus line of strawmen at people.

    P.

  34. Sunny — on 28th July, 2009 at 1:50 am  

    I’m not throwing out strawmen. I’m asking you to clarify your position. No need to get all defensive. It’s just that the HP threads are all about how this guy should never be employed by left-liberals mags etc.

    I’m all ready to be offended here; just tell me why I should be.

    So you’re offended by kaffir but not Gentile. Am I right?

  35. Paul Moloney — on 28th July, 2009 at 2:08 am  

    The summary of the summary: I believe Dawkins should be published anywhere. I believe Mehdi should be published anywhere. I believe the original Harry’s Place article was guilty of leaving out facts and over-egging the pudding. I’m not offended by the word Gentile, or even particularly offended by the word kaffir.

    However, I am taken aback that an editor of a left-wing magazine would, in the course of a speech to co-religionists, refer to atheists as “cattle” (and his reference to Muslims being “cattle” was only directed at those ones who act unthinkingly, like atheists), and that, you, owner of a left-wing blog, because of an ongoing feud you have with HP, will make excuses and insinuate that any atheist who find Mehdi’s words uncomfortable are just right-wing racists. It’s possible to not approve of what he says without wanting witchhunts.

    That’s my position.

    P.

  36. Sunny — on 28th July, 2009 at 2:19 am  

    If your only problem is with ‘cattle’ then that’s ok with me. Anyone who follows rote and does things unthinkingly could be seen, metaphorically, as cattle.

    That goes for Muslims and non-Muslims. That’s my position and that’s how I interpreted Hasan. Now, a religious person may think that atheists don’t really think about the world properly and that’s why they’re ‘cattle’, and an atheists may view religious people as the same. I’m happy with letting them believe what they want to believe. It’s called disagreement.

  37. Random Guy — on 28th July, 2009 at 7:53 am  

    One thing I don’t understand – all the atheists who are acting so offended – what do you care what Hasan referred to you as? I would have thought that you wouldn’t care at all about religous matters. Its hilarious how riled up you (plural) are all behaving though – any excuse I suppose, kind of like the fundamentalists who will protest at the slightest offence. Its like reverse-fundamentalism.

    Either way, it says more about your own mindset than it can ever say about Hasan’s.

  38. cjcjc — on 28th July, 2009 at 9:10 am  

    I think the point is not that some religious nutcase has said it, but that a “senior editor” at a respected (by some anyway) left-wing magazine has said it.

  39. damon — on 28th July, 2009 at 9:27 am  

    I presume this will all be sorted as soon as Mehdi Hasan gives his reply to this story.
    I hope he’s not overly defensive and spend too much time talking about how he’s been defamed or libeled (though he may have been), and maybe just hold his hands up and admits that what he said might sound alarming if taken out of context (and he should then make clear what context he meant this to be in).

    I too, wasn’t that impressed with that Martin Bright contribution to this story.

    That someone with strong religious beliefs has become the the political editor at a magazine like the New Statesman is a bit surprising.

    I could never take Ruth Kelly seriously knowing she was a supporter of Opus Dei. (Or Blair either with his strange ‘journey’ towards catholicism).

  40. douglas clark — on 28th July, 2009 at 9:28 am  

    Paul Maloney,

    There is some sort of logical inconsistency in his speech. On the one hand he argues that, as a measure of success, the Jewish ratio of Nobel Prize winners is high wheras the Muslim ratio is very low. As an aspiration, there is absolutely nothing wrong whatsoever with pointing that out. However, despite that, he then – in the excerpt – seems to denigrate the very people whom he is actually asking Muslims to see as role models. Educationally, rather than spiritually speaking.

    It’s all a bit odd.

    I believe that Mehdi Hasan is going to answer these sorts of comments today.

  41. The Common Humanist — on 28th July, 2009 at 9:57 am  

    Dear All,

    I asked this yesterday and I am asking again:

    “”We know that keeping the moral high-ground is key. Once we lose the moral high-ground we are no different from the rest, of the non-Muslims; from the rest of those human beings who live their lives as animals, bending any rule to fulfil any desire.””

    Ok, so, what exactly is the context I am supposed to see here apart from that he think that I, as a non-muslim, live like an animal?

    Am open to persuasion but it doesn’t look good at the moment.

    Does anyone have any help to offer?

  42. cjcjc — on 28th July, 2009 at 10:01 am  

    The “context” is apparently that all religious people (not only Muslims) apparently believe that – and you apparently believe that of them.

    So nothing to worry about.

  43. anobody — on 28th July, 2009 at 10:21 am  

    I’ll give you context.

    If anything it’s more of an insult to his shi’ah audience than non-muslims.

    He is obviously trying to rouse his audience into change. Unfortunately, he’s pre-supposing that his audience feels that non-muslims are morally corrupt, and inferior. This, obviously is not his personal point of view, as if he didn’t share the views of the left wing liberalists he wouldn’t be writing for one of their pravdas.

  44. Imran Khan — on 28th July, 2009 at 10:43 am  

    Leon – “And so the tedious blog war with HP continues…yawn.”

    It isn’t a tedious blog war it was a serious discussion about how things can be taken out of context and used against people. Its been sidelined.

    When I requested you to stop insults against commentators you said you wouldn’t take orders from the likes of me and since have failed to explain what the likes of me are.

    However here you are sidelining a serious issue as a blog war – sheesh!

  45. The Common Humanist — on 28th July, 2009 at 11:09 am  

    Hi Imran

    How about this section:

    “[15:37] “In Islam, to believe is to know. To disbelieve is not to know. That is what it fundamentally comes down to; it [to disbelieve] is to remain ignorant; to cover up knowledge. After all, what is ‘kaffar’? Kaffar comes from the root word which means to cover up, to conceal. The kaffar is the one who covers up that knowledge which is clear. The French orientalist scholar Lamens [?], he once wrote that the “Quran is not far from considering unbelief, disbelief as an infirmity, as an illness, as a disease of the human mind”. Subhanallah. Non-Muslims point this out to us.””

    Subanallah usually means assent or agreement (am I right on that?) and then he adds thay Non-Muslims point this out to us’ – meaning, I think, that he agrees with them when that happens and agrees that a lack of belief in Islam is a near disease of the mind etc.

    As a non Muslim thats not a pleasant statement to see or for the senior editor (politics) of a leading progressive left wing newspaper to make either.

    Question arising – Does he genuinely agree that I, as an example, are near mentally ill because I am an unbeliever?

    It would be useful if he clarified his comments.

    If he does though and says that he doesn’t think that he runs the risk of looking like he says one thing infront of a muslim audience and another infront of a mixed audience.

    That could be tricky all round.

  46. chairwoman — on 28th July, 2009 at 11:20 am  

    “Apparently I’m “Jew-baiting” for using the word “Chutzpah” (which he couldn’t spell properly) – and not because it’s a popular word.”

    Use it as much as you like, Sunny, as long as you pronounce it properly. If you pronounce the ‘ch’ as in ‘chose’, then please don’t use it at all :)

  47. chairwoman — on 28th July, 2009 at 11:28 am  

    “However here you are sidelining a serious issue as a blog war – sheesh!”

    If it were only this issue Imran, then I’d agree with you, I just imagine Sunny waking up every morning and rushing to his computer to see what he can criticise HP for todays.

  48. douglas clark — on 28th July, 2009 at 11:32 am  

    The Common Humanist @ 45,

    I’ve read these paragraphs a few times now, elsewhere, and I’m not at all clear what they actually mean.

    He quotes an SJ priest, Lamens who others say was Belgian, who lived around the turn of the last century but one, who says:

    (The)

    “Quran is not far from considering unbelief, disbelief as an infirmity, as an illness, as a disease of the human mind”.

    I don’t think Lamens was seeing that as a virtue, do you? Then, in his own voice, he says:

    Non-Muslims point this out to us

    .Which suggests to me at least that he is astonished (which some say is a better translation of ‘Subhanallah’) that the Muslim community is so introspective, or lacking in self awareness that it takes an outsider to bring it to their attention.

    Is that a reasonable interpretation of what is being said here? Whether you and I agree with it, or not?

  49. The Common Humanist — on 28th July, 2009 at 11:36 am  

    Douglas Clark,

    I think he agrees with the statement from the Koran then adds that non-muslims are the ones that bring that to his attention – possibly from the angle of saying that the Koran can be intolerant.

    But I don’t disagree that the meaning isn’t totally clear.

    The Clear English people would be having a fit.

  50. The Common Humanist — on 28th July, 2009 at 11:37 am  

    Douglas,

    Sorry, just re-read your post. Is that the better translation of Subhanallah?

    Could an arabic speaker help us out here????

  51. Jai — on 28th July, 2009 at 11:43 am  

    In fact in the Sikh scriptures there are verses to the same effect – that unthinking people (who follow ritual) of whatever religion are like sheep or cattle. The point is not that they’re animals or sub-human, but that they don’t think for themselves.

    The caveat here is that it explicitly applies to all people equally, irrespective of their religious beliefs or affiliation. The underlying principle is not asserting that someone is automatically “sheeplike or cattlelike” if they are not a Sikh.

  52. Jai — on 28th July, 2009 at 11:54 am  

    TCH,

    Is that the better translation of Subhanallah?

    It basically means “Glory be to Allah” or “Glorious is Allah”.

    The origin is Arabic, but amongst South Asians it’s also used in conversational Urdu, along with Farsi/Persian in Iran, Afghanistan and South Asia.

  53. Ganpat Ram — on 28th July, 2009 at 12:23 pm  

    As for all this sneering at “Neocons”. What force in the world today is more conservative than Islam?

    In fact, the dreaded Neocons at least believe in full freedom for believers and non-believers. So they are MORE progressive than the Oldcons of Islam.

    I agree it is laughable – if fervid Islam-fanatics like Hasan had a sense of humour – to decry freethinkers as “cattle” and then hold up communities where freethinking is very OK, like the Jews – as people the Muslims can emulate in winning Nobel Prizes!

    No wonder Muslims don’t get Nobels, if Hasan represents the best they can do by way of thought.

  54. Ganpat Ram — on 28th July, 2009 at 12:25 pm  

    Would Sunny Hundal be quite happy for Sikhs to be referred to as cattle, if some “holy” book did that?

  55. douglas clark — on 28th July, 2009 at 12:35 pm  

    The Common Humanist @ 50,

    I shall, of course defer to Jai.

  56. The Common Humanist — on 28th July, 2009 at 12:43 pm  

    But what is meant in this context???? Just that or is there additional implied meaning? Such as assent or astonishment??

  57. douglas clark — on 28th July, 2009 at 12:48 pm  

    Jai,

    I was going to ask that too. In vernacular English the expression ‘God give me strength’ is not actually a plea to the Lord for help in carrying the messages. It has meanings about toleration of someone else’s numbskull opinion. What is the common usage?

  58. Jai — on 28th July, 2009 at 12:57 pm  

    Douglas & TCH,

    To my understanding it’s usually just used as an expression of surprise, as far as I know.

  59. Jai — on 28th July, 2009 at 1:01 pm  

    Correction: Or an expression of praise, perhaps more accurately.

    Eg: Someone hears a nice song.
    They subsequently react with “Subanallah”.

    “Mashallah” is another one too, although it has a slightly different meaning.

    Unless the person concerned is being sarcastic, of course. Which also sometimes happens.

    But generally these expressions are used with positive connotations.

  60. The Common Humanist — on 28th July, 2009 at 1:09 pm  

    So he is either praising that passage with a religious expression or expressing surprise at the content of the Koran.

    I rather think it might be the former. Which does not reflect well on Mr Mehdi.

  61. douglas clark — on 28th July, 2009 at 1:18 pm  

    Jai,

    Thanks for the clarification(s). We are however no further forward. I await Mr Mehdis’ clarification, if that is what it is to be.

  62. Sunny — on 28th July, 2009 at 1:21 pm  

    The underlying principle is not asserting that someone is automatically “sheeplike or cattlelike” if they are not a Sikh.

    But isn’t there the implication that by being Sikh and being enlightened to this mindless ritualism, you’re no longer cattle?

  63. Imran Khan — on 28th July, 2009 at 1:26 pm  

    TCH – Subhan Allah means Glorious is Allah (God).

    It is often said by devout Muslims as a form of worship often following prayer.

    I say it quite often and Arabs say it repeatedly.

    Hope that helps :-)

  64. Ganpat Ram — on 28th July, 2009 at 1:33 pm  

    “This guy dares to disagree with us”?

    Is that the gripe of Hasan’s critics, as Hundal claims?

    Not if you are serious.

    All they are saying is that Hasan quotes – with no hint of disagreement and every sign of approval – an Arab book as saying that those who don’t believe in the book are “cattle”.

  65. douglas clark — on 28th July, 2009 at 1:39 pm  

    Imran Khan,

    I think we all now know the literal translation. Could you perhaps explain what it means in the context given @ 45, 48 and passim?

    It is pretty crucial to coming to an understanding of what was meant.

    If, in context, it means surprise, like ‘Glory be!’ can, then that leads down one path, if it means Glorious is Allah without nuance, then that leads down a completly tangential path.

  66. bananabrain — on 28th July, 2009 at 1:43 pm  

    i once saw a bunch of iranians shouting out “Allahu akbar!” whilst falling over laughing. mind you, they were watching hungarian folkdance at the time. i’d just never heard that particular context for that particular expression, but i did think it was peculiarly fitting.

    b’shalom

    bananabrain

  67. Jai — on 28th July, 2009 at 1:44 pm  

    But isn’t there the implication that by being Sikh and being enlightened to this mindless ritualism, you’re no longer cattle?

    The implication is that, by being enlightened to this mindless ritualism irrespective of one’s religious affiliation, one is no longer cattle.

    And “cattle” with regards to mindless ritualism specifically; it doesn’t necessarily mean that the person concerned is an example of “cattle” per se.

  68. Imran Khan — on 28th July, 2009 at 1:48 pm  

    TCH – “Hi Imran

    How about this section:

    “[15:37] “In Islam, to believe is to know. To disbelieve is not to know. That is what it fundamentally comes down to; it [to disbelieve] is to remain ignorant; to cover up knowledge. After all, what is ‘kaffar’? Kaffar comes from the root word which means to cover up, to conceal. The kaffar is the one who covers up that knowledge which is clear. The French orientalist scholar Lamens [?], he once wrote that the “Quran is not far from considering unbelief, disbelief as an infirmity, as an illness, as a disease of the human mind”. Subhanallah. Non-Muslims point this out to us.””

    Subanallah usually means assent or agreement (am I right on that?) and then he adds thay Non-Muslims point this out to us’ – meaning, I think, that he agrees with them when that happens and agrees that a lack of belief in Islam is a near disease of the mind etc.

    As a non Muslim thats not a pleasant statement to see or for the senior editor (politics) of a leading progressive left wing newspaper to make either. ”

    As I said Muslims are strictly prohibited from mocking other people’s faiths – no ifs no buts. Its prohibited.

    Equally Allah in the Qur’an says that not all people will become Muslims and it says there is no compulsion in religion. No ifs and no buts.

    What I would say is that his knowledge is suspect if he is referring to a French Philosopher and the French Philosopher himself is unlikely to be a scholar on the various aspects of Islam.

    Also I would highlight that for all Muslims there is an obligation to convey about their faith with goodness.

    The Prophet and his companions were very careful about calling anyone a kaffir and I can’t see the need for it in this statement.

    However I think the storm that has blown up is simply overstating the statements for hysterical effect.

    My advice to Mr. Hasan and indeed HP is that they should equally use their influence to build better community relations. This current episode simply drives us further apart and not closer together as communities.

    If he has upset you then I’d say his overall message has failed and he needs to look at what he can do better. However what I would say is that with a serious problem of antisemitism then HP isn’t helping to address the vital issues by diverting much needed discussion to the sayings someone might have said this.

    I fear this episode will leave Muslims wondering about relations with the Jewish Community and if they can be built given hysteria about every comment. We can’t afford that.

  69. Sunny — on 28th July, 2009 at 1:55 pm  

    And “cattle” with regards to mindless ritualism specifically; it doesn’t necessarily mean that the person concerned is an example of “cattle” per se.

    Take your first point, but the Gurus did all rail against mindless ritualism quite forcefully.

  70. Imran Khan — on 28th July, 2009 at 1:56 pm  

    Douglas and Bananabrain – what you’ll find is that Muslims will use words such as Subhan Allah and Allahu Akbar when speaking to emphasise points and they may use other words to glorify Allah when they make a mistake.

    Its difficult to describe but basically these words are used to glorify Allah and for emphasis in speech.

    In 45 I think he uses it for emphasis when referring to the statement of the French Philosopher and linking to the next sentence. And Allah Knows Best.

  71. The Common Humanist — on 28th July, 2009 at 2:03 pm  

    Imran

    Thanks for the detail. Much appreciated.

    TCH

  72. douglas clark — on 28th July, 2009 at 2:13 pm  

    Imran @ 69,

    Thanks.

    Bananbrain @ 65,

    I once got taken to a night of Hungarian Folk Dancing at the Royal Albert Hall. I’m with the Iranians…

  73. justforfun — on 28th July, 2009 at 2:37 pm  

    Wiki is not a substitute for thinking – look up Subhanallah and look further into it. A “warning alert” should ring as soon as Sanskrit is mentioned. Arab words don’t generally come from Sanskrit. I have no knowledge of Arabic – but did once learn Sanskrit and Avesta a little bit.

    Sanskrit and Avesta have one meaning – Glory. And Arabic has a completely different meaning in certain contexts – Void/Absence. They are not the same words. It always pays to carefully consider words that have flowed through Persia – those damn subversive Iranians.

    From my quick glance M Hasan is using it in its Arabic Koranic form and it makes perfect sense.

    You are all using the Sanskrit/Avesta homonyme which is a waste of time and leads to error. To understand the Koran you have to be a fluent Arabic speaker – no if no buts. So at first glance I think we have an Arabic phrase which gets its sub-continent meaning from the Sanskrit /Avesta homonyme – not the Koranic Arabic.

    Of course the above could be complete rubbish on my part.

    justforfun

  74. douglas clark — on 28th July, 2009 at 2:45 pm  

    justforfun,

    You confess to not knowing Arabic, so how can you reasonably say:

    To understand the Koran you have to be a fluent Arabic speaker – no if no buts.

    How do you know?

    :-)

    Anyway, now that it makes perfect sense to you could you let the rest of us know what the heck it means?

  75. justforfun — on 28th July, 2009 at 3:04 pm  

    It seems that we have here a word that has two meanings – Subha. One meaning in Arabic and one meaning in Sanskrit/Avesta. Nothing unusual in that. Does one read the Koran and then when an Arabic word sounds similar to a Sanskrit/Avesta word give it the Sanskrit/Avesta meaning over the Arabic meaning?

    So I am merely repeating what any Islamic scholar will tell you – to Understand – with a Big U – the Koran you have to know Arabic and Koranic Arabic at that. Nothing shocking there. Same as the New Testament – you need to know Greek or you may not get the exact meaning. The King James bible makes a good stab at it but I would not be suprised if it was incorrect in certain areas.

    Void/Absence – how about he means “absence of knowledge of Allah”. Just a guess – Or MH may just be saying “Glory of God” as a sort on vocal tick, a pious muttering if you want – only he knows.

    I’m just pointing out another side to the coin.

    justforfun

  76. Suzy — on 28th July, 2009 at 3:15 pm  

    Sunny to be honest, I don’t know why you’re wasting so much time on this. You know that Kaffir is an offensive word used pejoratively by some Muslims to describe non Muslims. It shouldn’t be something that Mehdi Hasan should be using in any context, especially when he seems to be feeding into a clash-of-civilisations mindset.

    Regarding comments in a thread, people leave nasty comments here that don’t get deleted. I am thinking in particular of the barbarian Munir who left racist scumbag comments about the Sikh Gurus which were not deleted for whatever reason. I’m sure you wouldn’t think that that meant you endorsed the racist bogots point of view.

    Mehdi Hasan really isn’t worth losing your temper over.

  77. Ravi Naik — on 28th July, 2009 at 3:17 pm  

    Harry’s Place is deliberately feeding into

    Oh please. This feud of yours against HP is quite frankly boring and childish. There is no way you would accept someone saying these things if he or she were not Muslim and associated to the Left. You are making HP look moderate and reasonable for a change, and I rather prefer the other way around.

  78. Ravi Naik — on 28th July, 2009 at 3:24 pm  

    To reiterate, this is what Mehdi Hasan said:

    “We know that keeping the moral high-ground is key. Once we lose the moral high-ground we are no different from the rest, of the non-Muslims; from the rest of those human beings who live their lives as animals, bending any rule to fulfil any desire.”

    Is it smearing to expose this narrow-minded individual?

  79. Suzy — on 28th July, 2009 at 3:24 pm  

    Sunny I e-mailed you something about an interactor here so check your mail from the Contact Us form if you get some time. Nothing really urgent, but just something you might find interesting.

  80. The Common Humanist — on 28th July, 2009 at 3:27 pm  

    Ravi @ 76:

    “There is no way you would accept someone saying these things if he or she were not Muslim and associated to the Left”

    I agree.

    “We know that keeping the moral high-ground is key. Once we lose the moral high-ground we are no different from the rest, of the non-Muslims; from the rest of those human beings who live their lives as animals, bending any rule to fulfil any desire.”

    Is it smearing to expose this narrow-minded individual?”

    Yes, quite how is it smearing?????

  81. Jai — on 28th July, 2009 at 3:41 pm  

    As a side-note, I will admit that when PP posted the first article about Medhi Hasan, initially I thought it was about his near-namesake Medhi Hassan, the legendary Pakistani ghazal singer, until I actually read the full article. Momentarily very confusing for those of us who are into the ghazal genre.

    Other South Asians here on PP, especially the Pakistani crew, will know what I mean…..

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mehdi_Hassan

  82. Celtlord — on 28th July, 2009 at 9:45 pm  

    http://web.youngmuslims.ca/online_library/books/milestones/hold/index_2.htm

    Have a read, and check the site homepage. This is supposed to be a moderate muslim group.

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