Middle-eastern skyline

Bill Maher got a lot of stick yesterday for posting on Facebook about this 2013 survey of Muslim attitudes by the Pew Research Center, but if you look past the top question about shari‘a (which seemed to upset people) there is some really interesting stuff here showing the diversity and otherwise of Muslim opinion. Of course, no survey can be a perfect representation of opinions so it should be taken with a grain of salt, but it’s interesting nonetheless.

Following on from Ben Affleck’s aggro attack on Bill’s guest Sam Harris recently, it seems like some people have decided that Bill is an Islamophobe for questioning the value of religious doctrine, which is pretty sad. Sam gives a fairly measured response: “Can Liberalism Be Saved From Itself?”.

At the end of that article Sam mentions Maajid Nawaz, who you should know about if you don’t. Maajid is a former Islamic extremist, who had a change of heart (partly due to support from Amnesty International while he was in prison) and formed the anti-extremism think tank Quilliam. I admire tremendously what he’s doing, even though it still seems simpler to me to just leave the religion behind. Still any attempt to solidify and elaborate a moderate position is definitely a good thing. He also wrote a book about his experience: Radical: My Journey out of Islamist Extremism.

If you don’t feel like you’ve overdosed on the Muslim ‘question’ already (like so many Bill Maher fans) you can see Maajid in action in this Intelligence Squared debate “Islam is a religion of peace” from a few years ago.