بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم
In the next few posts, I will be reviewing select portions of the four and a half hour live stream discussion that took place between Daniel Haqiqatjou and the apostate Ridwaan. In particular, I will be reviewing those parts of the debate where additional arguments that Daniel could have advanced occurred to my mind, and I thought it would worthwhile to share, inshaAllah.
General Review of the Debate
The discussion was about the morality of the shariah as a system as opposed to liberalism. On the whole, Daniel did an excellent job defending the rationality of the shariah and showing the problems with liberalism.
One point of criticism that I have is that after a certain point Daniel allowed his frustrations to get the better of him and resorted to scoring points rather than maintaining his composure and adab. That’s not to say it was atrocious, but it did not contribute to a cohesive discussion and things could have ended badly if it kept escalating into a shouting match. In particular, after Ridwan had done the whole “this is a yes or no question,” I found it distasteful when DH returned the favour like 15 minutes after the fact by trying to irritate Ridwan by doing the same thing. The Muslim should always be the maintain the rationality of the discussion.
That being said, nobody is perfect and when it comes to the rational side of the discussion in terms of who was actually making better points, I think Daniel did a fantastic job. The point here, then, is not to criticize Daniel’s arguments as I don’t think he made a single bad or fallacious argument on any of the main points of contention. Rather, I would like to add more arguments that bolster the Islamic position.
Liberalism as a coercive system
One thing that Daniel did extremely well was starting off the discussion on the right foot by demonstrating that liberalism is a universalist, supremacist system of values that is imposed by force.
Once a liberal agrees (or rather “sees” this point, since it is entirely contrary to the liberal narrative itself, as we will see), they have already lost the argument. The reason is twofold; first of all, when they recognize that they are one system of values competing against other systems of values, they must justify their position from first principles, which they cannot do. Secondly, accepting this fact reduces liberalism to incoherence, since the entire claim of liberalism is that it is superior because allows freedom for all. If it is in fact just another system of values being imposed, then it incoherently becomes a system which imposes freedom and equality. But imposition is the opposite of freedom; thus liberalism is logically incoherent.
Daniel started off the discussion by getting Ridwan to agree that both liberalism and Islam are universalist, coercive systems of values and that the fundamental difference between them is simply which values they impose.
A further argument for the Shariah
Ridwan tried to hint that liberalism is still superior to Islam because while Islam imposes its values with military force, liberalism uses softer, more humane means like sanctions.
Daniel correctly pointed out that sanctions can be more brutal, as was the case in Iraq where 500,000 kids were starved to death.
Some of the discussion centred around the kinds of means that were available in the premodern world versus after the advent of modern technology. What I would like to add here is a comparison from premodern warfare. In medieval warfare, you had two kinds of battles; the first where armies met on a field head to head, and the second was a prolonged siege. In a siege, one army would stand at the gates of another army’s fortress, and proceed to block any food from coming in or out in an attempt to starve the opposing side. At times, sieges were so brutal that those inside the city would be forced to resort to cannibalism.
If one looks at medieval literature, sieges were considered *far worse* than head to head combat for this reason. While not a perfect comparison, it seems that sanctions are more like a prolonged siege (especially in an age where many countries cannot even grow their own food and depend on imports to feed their population) than to some kind of innocent discontinuation of trade.
This is further compounded by the fact that countries like the US do not merely refuse to engage in trade with any country that violates their values or interests; rather the US then bullies other countries into abiding by their sanctions. The US threatens to sanction any country which does not sanction the target country. Thus, you find countries that really don’t care that much about Muslims imposing the Shariah in their own lands cutting off trade with Muslim countries at the whim of the US empire because they themselves do not want to be sanctioned. Does anyone seriously think South Korea or Japan care if homosexuals were executed in Brunei, for example? Probably not.
The net result is a massive siege-like scenario where a country is isolated from anything coming in or out in a world where most countries cannot meet their basic needs without trade, let alone flourish.
Furthermore, the West does resort to military intervention both directly and indirectly. When the Islamic revolution occurred in Iran, for example, Western European powers provided weapons, intelligence, funds, media, logistical support, and even chemical warfare capacities to Saddam Hussein in order to be able to wage a war. We also saw the West’s support of Sisi in the brutal suppression of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, their supporting Saudi Arabia against Yemen, as well as the direct and indirect support for various factions in Syria. Proxy wars cannot be ignored.
This is not to speak of the “boots on the ground” approach taken in both Iraq and Afghanistan. Ridwaan dismissed this as “exceptional,” but it’s really not. We have Korea, Vietnam, the First Gulf War, Israeli occupation of Palestine, and constant droning. It’s a question of logistical capabilities; the US spent trillions of dollars in Iraq and is now teetering on the brink of bankruptcy. If the US was capable, does anyone doubt that they would not take a more hardline approach in other countries as well?
Moreover, this is the level of force that is imposed *while liberalism is the ruling global ideology.* To even get to the stage where liberalism became the global hegemony, we have a long trail of blood spanning 400 years, which Ridwaan got away with historicizing. “Sure, liberalism spread by the sword, but now that almost every world government is in our clutches, we’ve stopped!” How convenient. You know, I bet internal to the Ottoman Empire, there also was a large degree of peace. Funny how that works, right?
Ridwaan also seemed to think that liberalism was more merciful than Islam because certain Muslim countries get to keep vestiges of Islam. But under Islamic rule, dhimmis also got to keep vestiges of their religions, and in fact to a much greater degree of autonomy so long as they pay homage to Islam’s political superiority. So what exactly is the difference?
In general, I think that Ridwaan seriously underplayed the level of coercion that occurs under liberalism, such that any pretension to superiority is based more on a fictional understanding of how Islam was “brutally” spread than reality.
This brings me to my next point; namely that Daniel should have used the excellent research on how long it actually took for people in the conquered countries of the Islamic empire to actually convert to Islam. According to the best quantitative statistical studies available, it took Persia over 300 years to become 50% Muslim, and the Levant was still 50% Christian in the 13th century (i.e. 7 centuries after the Islamic conquests.)
This fact pokes serious holes in Ridwaan’s imaginary construct of Muslims simply massacring everyone by the sword; rather the coercive aspect of Islam was more by offering social benefits to converts, which, in addition to its attractive message and the spirituality exemplified by its adherents, served to attract a steady stream of converts over an extended period of time.
When one compares this to the millions of dead bodies and extremely rapid conversion of the world population to liberalism, it is actually quite clear that Islam was and is *far less* coercive than liberalism. One might argue that this is not the case because the values liberalism spreads still allows Muslims, for example, to practice their religion; but this would just be analogous to the dhimmi status afforded to non-Muslims in an Islamic state, as pointed out earlier.