Archive for July, 2011

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The Distinction between Skepticism and Paranoia

In General Discussion on July 20, 2011 by tinfoilturban Tagged: , , , , , , ,

Bismillah iRahmen iRaheem

Asalaamu Alaykum Wa Rahmetullahi Wa Baraketahu 🙂

Insha’Allah this finds you all well! As the title hints at, today I wish to discuss the distinction between be a skeptic and being paranoid. This distinction I will illustrate through two examples, one is past and the other is occurring at the moment.

The first incident occurred in the Ukraine, and received widespread coverage. It was a story that a number of Muslim youths had stoned a 17 year old girl for appearing in a beauty contest. It was reported in various news outlets, both in the Ukraine and later throughout the world. Now I was immediately skeptical of the story, not only because the idea of someone being stoned for entering into a beauty contest, when no Sheikh I have come across has ever cited an example of a hadud punishment for lack of hijab, but also because I had never heard of any similar extrajudicial punishments occurring in the Ukraine.

Another thing that sparked my skeptical senses was the fact that the story quoted no police sources, only quoting local media. So, long story short, it turned out that my suspicions were confirmed. The uncritical repetition of the story in the local media had led to a beat up. The actual story turned out to be no less horrific. A boy at the girl’s school had an obsession with her and appears to have raped her and then bludgeoned her to death with a rock. He was known to have a history of mental illness. He also happened to be Muslim, but was not affiliated with any extremist groups and the police stated that religion apparently played no role in the crime.

Now what this highlights is that, in some media sources, there is a tendency to err on the side of sensationalism, rather than accuracy. This exists in general, but is significantly the case with ‘Muslim stories’. Another example of this bias would be a drive by on a Perth Mosque during ramadan, where a shot hit the sisters section, passing over the heads of the women and children who were in sujud (prostration). This story was not reported in the local papers. What was reported however was a story about a bank in the UK removing piggy banks for fear of offending Muslims. Now you and I would both be skeptical of such a story, and again, it would be warranted. The story was false.

Now there is an important line to draw here. Pointing out that some media outlets have this bias is distinct from having a conspiracy theory about all media outlets. It is also distinct from the assumption that the story itself is created by those media outlets, rather than there being selective or inaccurate reporting. Never assume malice, when you can assume incompetence.

So the second example is occurring right now, here in Sydney. To summarise the story, I will quote a brother of mine: ‘Bearded vigilantes breaking in to implement hudud, by themselves, in a non-Muslim state at 1am in the morning!’. Essentially, it seems a strong possibility that a group of individuals broke into the house of a new convert who had apparently gone out drinking, and whipped him. Now, to say that this is in contravention to the idea of the Sha’riah in pretty much every sect or jurisprudence system I have ever encountered, is to state the obvious.

So I am instinctively skeptical, however this skepticism, by definition, cannot rule out the possibility that it did occur as reported. To be blunt, I will reserve my judgement on the case, until all the details come out. Some people have been less cautious. The implication of many of the posts I have seen, on facebook and elsewhere, is to imply a conspiracy. The support or evidence offered for this conspiracy are incidents like my previous examples, which is where we draw the line.

Yes some of the media have a bias, no this doesn’t constitute proof that they are out there making incidents to report, or specifically breaking into converts houses and whipping them. Thinking something is a bit fishy, should be distinct from paranoia.

Again, I hope this finds you all in the best of health and iman, keep me in your dua insha’Allah 😀

Articles

‘Allah hears everything and sees everything’, Shaykh Hasan Ali regarding conspiracy theories.

In Links on July 19, 2011 by tinfoilturban Tagged: , , , ,

 

I loved this video, alhamduliLlah 🙂 it always brings me to mind of Shaykh Abdal Hakim Murad’s contention: ‘Do not trust a culture where the religious leaders do not have the best sense of humour.