Quicklinks: Following up Islam and vegetarianism

About two months ago, I submitted a post about the open mosque in Cape Town that included a short bit on how the idea of takfir can make Islamic conflicts worse, specifically with regard to ISIS (or ISIL or IS or whatever it calls itself these days). There’s a guest post on The Friendly Atheist that addresses the same point but taking a slightly different angle, saying that when some Muslim groups say ISIS is not Islamic they are not necessarily saying they are not Muslims. I doubt either perspective is completely correct but I should at least share the information.

Going further back, to last December, I described my experiences at a writer’s workshop, including my dismay at recent trends showing an increase in global meat consumption. This dismay is now reinforced by a recent article in The Guardian (found via io9) which summarises a report showing that to avoid climate change it is necessary to reduce the global consumption of meat. It’s not just a minor issue.

The global livestock industry produces more greenhouse gas emissions than all cars, planes, trains and ships combined, but a worldwide survey by Ipsos MORI in the report finds twice as many people think transport is the bigger contributor to global warming.

It’s pointless getting an electric car or cycling to work without reducing meat consumption because you’ll be directing attention at the wrong problem. It’s like telling people to be careful because candles are a fire hazard but staying silent about a trend for indoor bonfires! Even when people do say or do something, the reaction to suggestions that meat consumption needs to be reduced are negative.

For example, see this discussion about the push back against meatless Mondays. Not only the objections often completely misguided but when you see complaints about how meatless Monday or stricter emissions standards are bad for the economy you know that that person has a completely short-sighted view of the world. Are short-term economics really going to take priority over long-term survival?

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Cape Town’s open mosque and Islamic reform

A short while back I saw an interesting link in the UCT Free Society Institute newsfeed which led to an interview with Dr Taj Hargey. Dr Hargey is a professor of Islamic studies at Oxford University but was born in Cape Town and was speaking about his plans to open an open mosque in Cape Town. By an open mosque he means a mosque where everybody is welcome and where such radical concepts as women and men praying in the same area and entering through the same door are practised. Basically, he wants to bring Islam in line with modern ethics and sensibilities.

Dr Taj Hargey delivering a sermon during at the official opening of the open mosque.

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The world’s Muslims: religion, politics and society part 2

This follows on from my earlier post: The world’s Muslims: religion, politics and society part 1.

Regarding sex, we find most Muslims regard abortion (50-99%, not counting Azerbaijan at 23%), sex outside marriage (53-99%) and homosexual behaviour (67-99%) to be immoral. Opinions on divorce and polygamy varied greatly by geography. There generally wasn’t a majority support for honour killings but it was a disturbingly high minority that felt they were sometimes or often justified. Related to the sex is the notion of gender equality.

In some Muslim countries women are treated as inferior to men with Saudi Arabia having some of the most restrictive laws on what women may or may not do. The issue of women’s rights has also recently been debated in the Afghan parliament with some demanding the law be changed so that a husband cannot be prosecuted for rape within the marriage. Continue reading

The world’s Muslims: religion, politics and society part 1

This serves as a follow up to one of my previous posts, Necessary criticism is not “Islamophobia,” where I gave a briefly discussed the accusations of Islamophobia levelled at some atheists and maintained that it’s not Islamophobic to be concerned about, and criticise, certain ideologies. In addition, I showed the real-world problems certain interpretations of Islam could cause, using events in Bangladesh as an example.

Following on that there are two links I learned of through WEIT that are worth reading. One is from an ex-Muslim who gives his perspective on Islamophobia. Continue reading