Aren’t you generalising about all critics of Islam and Muslims by assuming they know nothing about Islam? That they are all ‘bigots’ or ‘racists’? That they ‘know no Muslims personally’, etc?
No. I don’t know what ‘all’ Muslims think; but I have spoken to many. I have read things in the newspapers, on the Net, and I have seen surveys and statistics. On your view you could not say anything because almost every sentence anyone utters will contain some generalisation or other. That sentence is itself a generalisation. You, too, generalise about all critics of Islam, as I have said.
In any case, I haven’t said that ‘all’ Muslims agree on ‘everything’. Why would anyone need or want to claim that? However, their religion, Islam, contains enough components to have the negative effects I have described. Some of ‘us’ have read the Koran, the hadiths, etc. as well as read about the life of Muhammad and the history of Islam. You cannot say that I have ‘preconceived notions of Islam’. That is an assumption and a generalisation about critics of Islam. What I do have is a critical attitude towards Islam. That is not the same as being ‘ignorant’ of Islam or of having ‘preconceived notions’ about it. Unless you believe that if you are negative towards Islam and Muslims you must be ‘ignorant’ by definition?
“Again, how would you know anything about the attitudes of the Muslims in the UK and the US? You know what you've heard *individuals* state about these things. These individuals don't speak for all Muslims any more than one single Christian speaks for the entire Christian population in the US or UK.”
I don’t understand what you are saying in the above. If we can’t go on what ‘individuals’ say, then what can we go on? Unless you are saying that I should study Islam and the Koran, which I have. If individuals don’t speak for Islam, who does? Are they the ‘individual’ Muslims who say good things about ‘Islam and peace’; but not the ones who speak about jihad? Even the Muslims who do speak about peace must realise that it is only the ‘peace’ supplied by Islam alone. It is the peace which comes from ‘submission to Allah’. And it is the peace which comes from only the societies which adopt sharia law and/or the peace which comes from the universal Umma.
‘You do understand the meaning of the word "generalize", yes? You generalize by saying "Islam is [x]" based on what you've heard from a few Muslims and from what you've read and concluded yourself. My point is that you collect a rather incomplete amount of information and then conclude that your own opinion about Islam is fact and truth.’
According to you, I cannot get a proper view of Islam unless I talk to each one of the one billion and more Muslims who inhabit the world. That means I couldn’t have had a proper view of Nazism either unless I had talked to the 250+ million Nazis who lived in Europe and beyond in the 1930s and 40s. And communists? I would have needed to talk to about a 500 million of them before saying anything critical.
What would you have said (or not said) if I had said something positive about Islam or Muslims? Would you have said: Yes, you think that “Islam is peace”. But have you talked to every one of the billion Muslims in the world? They may not agree with you. Of course not! If I had said brainlessly positive things about Islam you would not have bothered to correct such a contributor to this site. And yet they have no more right to say positive things about Islam than I have to say negative things. That is, according to your extreme and impossible view that in order to say anything about any religion or ideology you must speak to every upholder of that religion or ideology. But, of course, you would not have demanded this impossible feat if I had said something positive.
It doesn’t matter if there are a billion Muslims in the world who are 'divided into many denominations' because they must all share something otherwise they wouldn’t be Muslims. Don’t all communists or Trotskyists share something even though there are many ‘denominations’?
What Muslims share is the Koran. And I find that book an abomination. Whether or not I have read it ‘just to pick out the bad bits’ is irrelevant. That is a psychological point on your part. I could just as easily say that you pick out the good bits. But when there are over are over a hundred and fifty (or more) passages (in a fairly small book of 80,000 words) which refer to violent jihad, your argument must be backed up.
Your logic is simple. No one can say anything negative about Islam unless he has questioned the 1.5 billion people who are Muslims. However, if someone on this site says positive things about Islam, he or she does not need to question the 1.5 billion people who are Muslims. Indeed you probably wouldn’t even ask a naïve Islamophile to speak to a single Muslim about Islam. As long as his or her views are positive.
What do your Muslim friends think about the Iraq war? Did they favour it? What do they think about Afghanistan? Do they favour the interventions there? Were they happy that the Danish cartoons of Muhammad were not banned? Are there no-go Muslim areas in your country? I bet your friends respond in the negative to all of these. 99% of Britain's ‘heterogeneous’ Muslims believe that Rushdie should have been killed. That the Danish cartoons should have been banned. That the toppling of Saddam Hussein was wrong. Etc. And yes, most of this applies to the ‘heterogeneous’ Sufis as well as the Amaddiyas.
I see where you are going. Only unsophisticated people ‘generalise’ about Islam. (Though you may allow me to do so about things you too are against.) However, I realise that there are 1.5 billion Muslims - all with their individual views on Islam. Very sophisticated. However, it renders you impotent when it comes to Islamism and the rise of Islam. There may well be some Muslims who run lesbian collectives in Karachi or who play in thrash-metal bands in Afghanistan. There were some Nazis who were not anti-Semitic. But where does this sophistication get you with the Nazis, Muslims or any other group? If I say that water comes out of my tap, am I generalising? Once water did not come out of my tap. Thus I am a generaliser. However, the assumption that water comes out of my tap seems to work practically.
You have given the game away by saying that you have Muslim friends. I believe that it just about motivating everything you write. Joseph Chamberlain, in the 1930s, might well have said to himself, and to others, that he had Nazi friends. You know, they were good to know in a social context. They liked a drink and told jokes – ‘just like us’.
Of course there are good aspects to Islam. There were good aspects to Nazism and Fascism. They made the trains run on time. They solved the unemployment problem. The assuaged the worries of the middle classes. They kept the streets clean.
There were also different denominations of fascism. The Italian variety was very different to the German (e.g., it was not as anti-Semitic). Ireland had its fascist party which had its own peculiarities (being loosely allied with the Catholic Church). There were fascist parties in Hungary, Bulgaria, etc. and they all had there own peculiarities. However, they were all fascist. Just as all Muslims subscribe to Islam and read the Koran. And that is enough for my ‘generalising’ tendencies.