Great Question: What Are You Basing Your Opinion On?


The following is another gem from the Malsi-Tung blog, written by Greg Hamilton and republished here with his permission:

Christmas is often a time to meet distant relatives and exchange views. Such was the case for me this Christmas when I had a occasion to speak to a rather smug and ignorant relative about Islam. So ignorant was he and so full of certainty that it was difficult to know where to begin. It was as if he had soaked up every cosy media homily about the real nature of Islam and regurgitated them without question.

What can we do when confronted by people of this type?

A recent post at New English Review gave me an idea. The post describes an interview between retired Hebrew University Professor of Islamic and East Asian History, Raphael Israeli, and radio personality Tali Lipkin-Shahak. During the interview the familiar gap between the knowledgeable and the ignorant emerges; the difference between knowledge and ignorance with which all those who have studied Islam now carry like a historic responsibility. The original article was written by Dror Eydar in Israel Hayom.

"On Monday, radio personality Tali Lipkin-Shahak interviewed Professor Israeli. It wasn't the interview that was notable, but the style in which it was conducted — a style shared particularly by many Israeli journalists and Western journalists in general. "You were ahead of your time," she said to him. Israeli replied that he had been investigating the Muslim "diaspora" in Western countries for over a decade, and that in that time the Muslim population has grown to alarming proportions.

"But why do you attribute violent intentions to the immigration process?" the interviewer asked him. "Joseph also immigrated to Egypt," she remarked, evoking the Book of Genesis.

True, the professor answered, remarking that he had written five books on the subject, "but Joseph's family had not proclaimed that it planned to conquer Egypt or to convert Egypt to become Israelite."

"The Muslims explicitly say that they did not come to Europe in order to become European, but to Islamise Europe." They have vowed that a Muslim flag will wave over 10 Downing Street in England and over Versailles Palace in France within 25 years, he explained.

Lipkin-Shahak then said that "one can always [always!] talk about those people in terms of a negligible, extremist minority, including the terrorist attackers." Even ISIS, she said, "has no more than several thousand members."

Israeli insisted that these atrocities are nothing new. In the past, Muslims who immigrated to Australia, Scandinavia and Germany, as well as other places, have perpetrated very serious attacks.

The overly concerned interviewer rushed to protect the ears of her tender listeners, saying "I have to be the one to tone things down, or at least present the opposing view," she said. "What you are saying, it is very serious. You are vilifying an entire population; you are contributing to the process of hatred and counter-hatred, which only causes harm and intensifies the violence."

Israeli was not surprised. "That is exactly what they told me in Australia, until they became the victims of a catastrophe…This is my job. Anyone who wants to listen can listen. Anyone who doesn't, they can wait for the next catastrophe."

Lipkin-Shahak stuck to her guns: "We listened, but we voiced a sceptical opinion. We disagree."

"What are you basing your opinion on?" Israeli wondered in desperation. "I am basing my opinion on thirty years of research, studying Islam, and you are basing yours on a trend, on the fact that it is not nice to say these things. We are talking on two completely different planes."

To which Eydar observed:

Indeed, two completely different worlds. Facts versus beliefs. Reality versus fantasy. Make love not war; imagine there's no countries and no religion too. A very special kind of liberal fundamentalism. The moment the truth comes knocking, they retreat into their politically correct shells and refuse to recognise the facts. There is no such thing as Muslim terrorism. The terrorists come from outer space. Islam is a religion of peace and we mustn't link it to all these terrible acts perpetrated in its name. Sadly, the people who think this way — the politically correct — have the microphone. The researcher with the facts is only a momentary guest.

Israeli's question is crucial: What are you basing your opinion on? This is the question we should ask our interlocutors. Next time you get into one of these discussions, allow the person to offer all his ill-informed, assumption-laden opinions. Rather than trying to counter them, draw him out in order to make a retreat impossible.

Then, pose the question: What are you basing your opinion on? Perhaps he will feel the gulf of ignorance opening up beneath him and will find the motivation to actually learn something about Islam and its core teachings and the actions of its prophet. Perhaps the opportunity will arise to point out how little evidence there is for the opinions he holds and that he has never bothered to seek it out but merely assumed it was there.

A supplementary question might be: Have you read any of the foundational texts of Islam?

This experience could just provoke a learning opportunity where any attempt to counter the opinions of which he is already so certain will fail.


Citizen Warrior 12:59 AM  

Although it is difficult to reach some people, many who are unacquainted with Islam CAN still be reached. Giving up on even trying and just waiting for catastrophe is tempting because it can be so frustrating to try, but as the guy in Apollo 13 said, "failure is not an option."

We have good evidence that some people who think Islam is a religion of peace can be reached:

Education Makes the Difference

Focus on the Undecided

The first one is a report by ACT for America. It said, in part:

A recent debate was held in New York, debating the motion “Is Islam a religion of peace?” Prior to the debate, the audience members were polled as to their position on the motion.

41% were for the motion
25% were against the motion
34% were undecided

After the debate, the audience was polled again. Check out these results!

36% were for the motion (a decrease of 5 percentage points)
55% were against the motion (an increase of 30 percentage points)
9% were undecided

In other words, after seeing only one debate, most of the undecideds and some of those who initially agreed that “Islam is a religion of peace” changed their positions to opposing the motion.

Jeanne 5:00 AM  

Just to be totally honest, until about 9 months ago I thought 'Islam' was a religion like Christianity, Buddhism, etc. I listened to the news, heard there were some extremists, and accepted this explanation. Then, I came across the Act for America website, and began to wonder... I began reading, researching, and wondering... Since then my eyes have been opened. Just because I did not know the truth 9 months ago does not mean I will never listen and know the truth. Many more will come to know the truth in the future. When that light bulb turns on, then they will also question and potentially be open to the truth. In the mean time, I continue to dig at the truth, and find ways to present it in respectful terms, as Act for America presented it to me.

Elsa 5:41 AM  

"What Are You Basing Your Opinion On?" - such a great question about everything.

You are sure the earth is flat? What are you basing your opinion on?

You are sure Israel is an apartheid state? What are you basing your opinion on?

What are your sources? Are there sources you have not considered? What about what is said at this source? On and on.

Babs 5:54 AM  

Once more you hit the nail squarely on the head, Citizen.

I have made it my business to learn about Islam and its intentions (along the lines of "know thine enemy") since the catastrophes of 7/7 and 9/11 and have found that those resistant to reality are either terminally stupid and incapable of taking in the complexity of Islam's agenda or are at base level terrified as it all plays out before them.

Our spelling out what is going on exacerbates that fear, so they sink into denial because that feels more comfortable.

I have often said that we need to NAME the dangers from Islam, explicitly and clearly, and as often as is needed. I don't give a fig for the sensitivities of people in denial, whose attitude if it were widely adopted could doom us all, but the more often Islam's dangers to us all are pointed up, the more likely we are to be able to make them impact on our leaders.

My conflict is around the so-called moderate Muslims, who do no harm and are not apparently extremist. However, they are also easily led and are likely to be bullied into following the herd of extremists.

Anonymous 6:54 AM  

Great article! Will definitely use it in future.

Walter Sieruk 9:12 AM  

Over the years I have found the the opinion of Muslims which they call "faith in Islam" is based on strong emotion or in other words their feelings. The foundation of"feeling' to tell if a religion teaches the truth or not is worthless and useless. For"feeling" that something is right may apply to belief in any religion. So such a feeling based faith is base on folly. With Islam reason, meaning sound reason and logic, goes out the window

Citizen Warrior 2:02 PM  

A reader emailed this comment:

Better yet is to ask the question, "What do you know about Mohammad, the founder of Islam, the perfect example, whom Muslims must live their lives by?"

Anonymous 3:36 AM  

Did Mohammad really exist ? Robert Spencer has written a book worth reading.

Walter Sieruk 9:51 AM  

The Muslim opinion of Islam is their belief is that Islam is the one true religion. Which is based on emotion and feelings. Not on reason. This brings to mind what Benjamin Franklin printed in POOR RICHARD'S ALMANAC. For it reads "The way to see by faith is to shut the eye of reason."

Citizen Warrior 6:26 PM  

Did Muhammad really exist? I think that's a question for historians, but not a question to concern ourselves with. Its value to the counterjihad is that perhaps if believing Muslims can be convinced that Muhammad didn't really exist, it would undermine their belief in Islam, or at least weaken their confidence in it (and thus their willingness to kill non-Muslims).

But here on Citizen Warrior, our audience is non-Muslims. We see our main task as educating our fellow non-Muslims about the basic doctrines of Islam so that when they vote, they will make fewer foolish mistakes. And they will advocate sensible policies given the reality of Islamic doctrine rather than advocating policies based on a false but comforting view of Islam.

With that goal in mind, it becomes irrelevant whether or not Muhammad really existed. The people motivated by Islamic doctrine clearly believe he existed, and it is their belief-motivated actions that motivate their push for concessions, and we want to stop allowing those concessions. Given our goal, then, what THEY believe doesn't matter. What WE believe matters a great deal.

There are people who successfully reach Muslims and get them to leave Islam, and we are in favor of such efforts. But that's not what we're doing on this site.

Article Spotlight

One of the most unusual articles on is Pleasantville and Islamic Supremacism.

It illustrates the Islamic Supremacist vision by showing the similarity between what happened in the movie, Pleasantville, and what devout fundamentalist Muslims are trying to create in Islamic states like Syria, Pakistan, or Saudi Arabia (and ultimately everywhere in the world).

Click here to read the article.


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