Large-Scale Islamic Belief is Harmful to Society
Debate Rounds (5)
To clarify, I am not trying to assert that merely being a Muslim causes one to harm society, I am asserting that in places where Islam is very prevalent, harm is caused to society.
- In this debate, usage of the Quran verses are permitted in order to prove/disprove topic question
-Islam will be assumed to be a religion
-Debate shall follow the format that follows:
Round 1: Acceptance
Round 2: Arguments Presented
Round 3: Rebuttals
Round 4: Counter-rebuttals
Round 5: Closing Statements
I wish my opponent good luck and hope to have an insightful debate
1. Quranic Verses and Domestic Abuse in the Middle East
Within the Quran, there are many verses that deal with the subject of violence. While I won't reference the most disputed ones here, I would like to reference a particular verse: 4:34, which says:
"Men are in charge of women by [right of] what Allah has given one over the other and what they spend [for maintenance] from their wealth. So righteous women are devoutly obedient, guarding in [the husband's] absence what Allah would have them guard. But those [wives] from whom you fear arrogance - [first] advise them; [then if they persist], forsake them in bed; and [finally], strike them. But if they obey you [once more], seek no means against them. Indeed, Allah is ever Exalted and Grand." 
Take note to words near the end of the verse specifically: "...strike them." This entails that if a woman disobeys her husband, he has the right to hit her after the third offense. There have been many defenses of this, such as by Dr. Muzammil H. Siddiqi, former president of the Islamic Society of North America, who said:
"While it is important that a wife recognizes the authority of her husband as the head of the household, the husband should also use his authority with respect and kindness towards his wife. If there arises any disagreement or dispute between them, then it should be resolved in a peaceful manner. Spouses should seek the counsel of their elders and other respectable family members and friends to patch up the rift and solve the differences.
However, in some cases a husband may use some light disciplinary action in order to correct the moral infraction of his wife, but this is only applicable in extreme cases and it should be resorted to if one is sure it would improve the situation. However, if there is a fear that it might worsen the relationship or may wreak havoc on him or the family, then he should avoid it completely. "
The problem with this is the words "...one is sure it would improve the situation." This states that a man can hit a woman if he is sure it would improve the situation. This can be interpreted in many ways, which may be cause for some of the high levels of domestic abuse in Middle Eastern Countries.
One example is can be seen in Afghanistan, a country whose citizens are almost 99% Muslim . The United Nations Development Fund for Women reported that almost 90% of woman in Afghanistan suffered from domestic abuse, an extremely high rate compared with countries such as the United States or the UK. Another example, Iran, an Islamic Theocracy, has 66% of woman in marriage being abuse at least once in their lifetime . Iraq, an another Islamic majority, boasts almost 73% of women facing abuse . I could go on and on, but I think you see the point: places where the Islamic majority is present, places where almost the entire population is Muslim, report extremely high levels of domestic abuse against women.
2. Tax Amongst Non-Muslim citizens
During the conquering of the Christian lands during the reign of the Ottoman Empire, Jewish and Christian citizens were required to pay the Jizya tax, which gave them the right to retain their religious beliefs under the Ottoman Empire. Within "The Oxford History of Christianity", Jeremy Johns, a lecturer in Islamic Archaeology at Oxford University, states: "... although Christians were urged to convert to Islam, and suffered varying fiscal and social penalties for not doing so, there was no general attempt to force Christians to convert: on the contrary, the Islamic socio-religious system was designed to accommodate subject communities of Christians."  At first glance, this would be seen as something to praise, as Christians and Jews were given protection under their Muslim superiors. However, the fact of the matter is: the two groups were the victims of a form of passive-aggression. They were not forced to convert; they were instead forced to pay for believing in something other than the theocracy's religion, which can be seen as a form of humiliation. There is no documented case of the Catholic Church (during that time) imposing taxes on those of a different faith.
3. Modern-Day Unrest
Within the Middle East, conflict has been very prevalent, with one the main forces now being ISIS. While the debate on whether or not ISIS is Islamic continues amongst scholars, the fact that it is considered possibly "Islamic" versus "Christian" or any other religion is a very interesting to note, because as it stands, there is no known threat from a major religious state, other than those under the banner of Islam. If Islam was the so-called "Religion of Peace" as it's advocates call it, why aren't there an equal amount of Christian extremists or Hindu extremists committing war in the world today, and the majority of current world conflicts are located where Islam is almost universal amongst it's people?
To recap: My argument consists of three parts:
1. Abuse rates are extreme in Islam-majority countries
2. Taxes imposed on Christians and Jews during occupation during the Middle Ages was created as a show of superiority and there is no case of Christians or Jews imposing such restrictions.
3. Current large-scale conflicts mostly center around the Islam-dominant Middle East.
I look forward to my opponent's argument (for the sake of reiterating, round 2 is specifically for arguments only, and all rebuttals of arguments should be saved until round 3; I just wanted to make that clear)
 "The Oxford History of Christianity" (Edited by John McManners)
Surely, it is silly to think that a Holy Scripture that encourages people to love truth, practice integrity, give to charity, and be peaceable to their community would be harmful to society! The only type of violence that is ever justified by the Qur'an is self defense when the attacker won't accept a peaceable surrender. This is shown as an example in the early community as led by Mohammed. For about a decade, the earliest Muslims faced terrible persecution by the community in Mecca. Muslims were getting killed simply for believing and following their deen, which was considered offensive to the pagans in Mecca. After this decade of persecution, the Muslim community moved up north for the sake of peace, and the pagans of Mecca still made war. When all attempts at peace have been made, and the enemy refuses to stop attacking, it was determined that war for the sake of simultaneously maintaining sincerity, faith, and life is justified. This is something that most people would not have a hard time swallowing. War in self defense. Even then, it is a choice. So, if your life is being threatened by a killer, you have permission to defend yourself if you so choose to.
When those who surrender and accept peace are in charge, they donate a portion of their earnings toward charitable causes. When those who do not believe in peace are under the rule of those who do live in peace, they are expected to pay taxes that go towards protection and allowing them and others to practice their religion or way of life freely. These are not hard things to accept.
Areas that were once occupied by Byzantine Rome, after switching to Muslim rule actually paid less in taxes than when under Roman rule. The Muslim world has traditionally respected the rights of people to practice their faith in peace. Jews, Christians, Sabians, eventually Zoroastrians, Buddhists and Hindus were allowed to practice their faiths. Science flourished in the Muslim world. Once again, the early Muslim community as led by Mohammed is a prime example. The constitution of Medina outlines a government that respected people of different tribal affiliations and religions to peacefully co-exist.
The Qur'an teaches a religion of peace, but Muslims are people. They are susceptible to the same temptations that any other person would be susceptible to. They, like all people, are going to act on bad information without even realizing that it is bad. They, like all people, make mistakes. A good argument could even be made that Islam by itself is actually beneficial to society. Truly, any example of harm being done to society in correlation with large scale belief in Islam could not be reasonably used to pin down Islam as being the primary causal force.
'That she heard Allah's Apostle saying, "He who makes peace between the people by inventing good information or saying good things, is not a liar." ' 
Obviously, this is implying that a Muslim may lie in order to achieve peace, which is quite dangerous for the parties involved with said peace agreement. Another verse can be found in the Quran, which states:
'Let not the believers Take for friends or helpers Unbelievers rather than believers: if any do that, in nothing will there be help from Allah: except by way of precaution, that ye may Guard yourselves from them. But Allah cautions you (To remember) Himself; for the final goal is to Allah.' 
In this verse, a Muslim is instructed not to makes friends with anyone other than a Muslim, unless he wishes to "guard himself".
An example of the use of deceit can be found in the Hadith (Volume 5, Book 59, Number 369) in which Mohammad allow his fellow Muslims to lie in order to kill Ka'b bin Al-Ashraf .
Next, in your third paragraph, you claim that "those who do not believe on peace" are obligated to pay taxes to their conqueror. Despite your statement, it is a hard thing to accept, especially since a person should not have to pay for their right to live the way they wish in a country. Imagine if in the UK or the United States of America forced anyone who had immigrated from a country that they had won a war in to pay taxes because they weren't Protestant, or Catholic? And in your fourth paragraph, you make the statement about Byzantine Rome; where are your sources?
It seems that if Mohammad encouraged his followers to lie in order to advance Islam, they are not being presented with incentive from just the outside world. It seems there must be a source from within their doctrine they may use to justify their actions.
The Qur'anic passage is very specifically talking about a woman who is not keeping her vows. The next passage even advises getting a mediator. It is wisely says that if both parties truly desire to be reconciled, they will be reconciled. The fact of the matter is, the intent of the scripture is not to encourage "domestic abuse", and twisting it to mean something like that is more a reflection of the interpreter than anything. It isn't something that can be blamed on Islam.
In the same source that you use to claim that "99%" of the population is Muslim, it makes the claim that "An important figure in Muslim life in Afghanistan is the mullah (a male religious leader or teacher). Any man who can recite the Koran (the sacred scripture of Islam) from memory can be a mullah, but the mullah may not understand either the words or the meaning, since the book was written and is memorized in Arabic, which is not a local language. The mullah conducts the Friday sermon and prayers, marriages, and funerals. Mullahs also teach the laws and doctrines of Islam to both adults and children. Mullahs arbitrate local disputes, based upon Islamic legal principles, and they are also called upon to provide advice and resolution of many other physical, social, and personal problems, including such things as medicines, local water disputes, or a family feud.". It seems implied that the Afghanistan people may not be the most knowledgeable about Islam, despite their outward appearance.
The sources you are pulling for these statistics for domestic abuse are news articles, which are not necessarily reliable sources to begin with. The CNN claimed source for abuse in Afghanistan is the "The United Nations Development Fund for Women" as you stated. If you were to read the "convention on the elimination of all forms of discrimination against women", you will see that this organization clearly has a very strong feminist bias. It it isn't clear how they come up with their information. The source for your Iran statistics is from an "anonymous journalist in Iran". I can't seem to find where you are getting your statistic for Iraq from. Statistics themselves are not reliable, and they can easily be used to mislead. Let us also remember that correlation does not necessarily mean causation. Certainly, there are other things these countries have in common besides a professed Islamic faith. Certainly, I am not even implying that those commonalities are any more or less a direct cause than belief in Islam.
~Response to 2. Tax Amongst Non-Muslim citizens~
What the Caliphate did was no different than what any other country did then or now. They collected a tax which went towards the upkeep of both the state and the upkeep of the church buildings of those who had to pay the tax. It is well documented that non-Muslims were not asked to fight in wars. Muslims themselves were required to donate to charity. It was for practical purposes.
~Response to 3. Modern-Day Unrest~
I think it is unfair to single out religion as a cause for what is going on in the middle east at the moment. After World War 1, the region has been carved up, exploited, and dominated by outside influences that aren't able to act effectively even when they operate under the pretense of having the best interest of the people in mind. There is a lot of chaos in the region, and religion, being a great unifying force, will be used to rally people. The people in the region live radically different lives, are exposed to very different information, and have experienced a great deal more horror than those who live outside. The situation in the middle east is tragic and confusing at the moment. I don't believe that the attention we are given to the situation over there is conducive to understanding the message of Islam. I also don't believe that it is even remotely reasonable to blame the turmoil in that region on Islam. There are far too many variables at play here.
In your third paragraph, you question the validity of my sources, despite you not sourcing any of your claims in your arguments, but I'll ignore that for the time being. I was very aware that the United Nations Development Fund for Women has a feminist basis, mostly because they are a organization specifically for women. Also, and this may sound personal, so forgive me, but I would presume that the United Nations, a organization based upon bettering the welfare of humanity, would most likely have accurate information of the various injustices occurring around the world. Also, the well-documented report on the abuse of women in Iran was not open to the public around the time the journalist posted, and if you read the post, you would have seen that only specific people (scholars, journalists, and researchers) were allowed to view it.  I also took into account the fact that correlation does not necessarily mean causation, but I countered that with precision, by showing consistency with the percentage belief and abuse.
On your fourth paragraph, you directly lie and say that the Caliphate's tax system is equal to that of a modern-day country, such as France or Norway. Being taxed based upon your beliefs is not something normally seen in many (read: none) Western countries, so to say they are both the same is very ignorant.
In your last paragraph, you say that religion will be used to rally people, proving my point that Islam can be cause for some of the violence occurring in the Middle East. Though there are variables outside of religion that have caused turmoil, you say that religion unifies them, and in this case, it hasn't brought them out of the state they are in.
Ultimately, I think you are arguing with an opinion, and are making statements that offer not even a hint of a source. I would encourage you in your final statements to bring out some sourced info instead of merely stating an opinion; everyone has one, but a debate has a balance of opinion and fact.
The Qur'anic scripture you are referencing does not say anything nearly as controversial as you are making it out to be, and I would argue that translation you are using in this instance is also clunky. The scripture says that you shouldn't prefer those who do not follow the deen as friends to those who do follow the deen. If you do have friends who do not practice sincerity of faith, kindness to one another, and charity, it is wise to be prudent around them, as they can both be a corrupting influence, and might not be reliable. It doesn't say that you shouldn't have friends outside of your religion.
You reference the assassination of Ka'b bin Al-Ashraf. This man was inciting revolt during war time and making deals with the enemy combatants. He was considered a citizen of Medina, and his actions were treasonous. The fact that the assassin asked for permission to lie is a testament to the level of honesty that was required of Muslims. The man was killed for treason.
The United States does not force its citizens to pay taxes because they aren't Protestant or Catholic. The United States does however collect taxes in order to maintain infrastructure and defense. Jizya is a tax on a Dhimmi. A Dhimmi is a "protected person", that is, someone who is protected by the state. A person who is protected by the state is expected to pay a tax in order to help upkeep the state and protect them. It is a type of military exemption tax. If you serve in the military, you would exempted from the Jizya tax. I would also like to point out that no contemporary U.N. recognized Muslim majority state institutes a Jizya tax.
If you really need a source to confirm my claim about people paying less in taxes under Muslim rule than Byzantium rule, my source will be The Federal Research Division of the Library of Congress
I will say that all of the information that I am working with here is available and easily confirmed by multiple sources, and I find it rather silly to cherry pick things out of context in order to illustrate a point. I would rather encourage people to do the research themselves. I referenced the Constitution of Medina as a source. I reference the life of the Prophet Mohammed, of which there are many biographies. The Qur'an is my primary source. I realize that for every out of context and misunderstood passage I am shown I can show another out of context passage as a rebuttal. This however, is like fighting fire with fire, and I believe that anyone who honestly studies the Qur'an without the intent to dismantle and destroy it will find that the message is really quite clear.
Perhaps "Submission" is bad word to translate "Islam" into, as it carries far too many negative connotations in the west. Another word I would use to mean the same thing is "acceptance". The Qur'an tells us to accept reality, be sincere with our faith, and practice charity. This is the way of life that the Qur'an describes. This is what Islam is about. It is ludicrous to claim that this way of life is harmful to society. In fact, I think that a good case could be made that the people who discourage this way of life are in fact the ones who are harmful to society.
I would hope that those viewing have the sense to understand the old biblical proverb, "The prosecution always looks correct until the defense has a chance to speak.". There are many out there who feel threatened by Islam, and they are doing everything in their power to spread their ignorance which is rooted in fear and insecurity. As it is written, Truth stands clear apart from error, and I would hope that more consider this issue with righteous discernment.
I would like to comment on your first paragraph, in that I never claimed fighting was better than peace; I merely stated that lying in order to find peace causes mistrust: how can anyone believe anything a Muslim says if they will purposely lie in order achieve a peace build upon falsehood and deceit? I would have you notice my emphasis on "inventing".
In your second paragraph, you claim I am trying to make the verses very "controversial"; I'm merely pointing out what they are and what they can entail. Also, if the translations I am using are "clunky", why not show me an instance that is more in what you perceive as adequate, instead of merely saying they are clunky?
If I were to follow the logic of your third paragraph, in which a man is murdered because he makes poems denouncing Mohammad and rallies people to wage war, then every person that acted in the Ferguson protests who tried to attack police officers and encourage people to kill police should be killed for treason.  And my statements above contradict the "level of honesty" that you claim is required of Muslims.
Next, like I said before, a regular tax is one thing, but taxing based upon one's religion can be used as a form of oppression and discrimination, and while Muslim-majority nations may not be imposing those types of taxes, Saudi Arabia is going to be breaking it's beheading record this year, for some crimes as minor as drug smuggling .
Also, the source you reference in your fifth paragraph makes no reference of the taxes imposed under the Muslim rulers. In fact, the majority of it revolves around the Christian Roman Empire, and praises the advancements and social structure during that time.
Hopefully this has been very informative for you and the voters, especially involving the use of sources. If you haven't noticed, you gain points for providing sources of everything you say; voters shouldn't have to look for the information themselves. That alone is going to provide me with an advantage; I would take this debate as a learning experience.
So with that, I conclude my statements, and wish luck to my opponent and trust in the non-partisanship in the voters, in that large-scale Islamic belief is indeed harmful to society.
Belief in Islam does not imply the regulating of other people's lives. Belief in Islam does not imply the acceptance of a man's authority because they claim to be a religious teacher. Belief in Islam does not imply the inability to live in a society that is non-Muslim. Belief in Islam does not imply the mistreatment of anyone. The Qur'an teaches that Truth is God, and that everyone has their own relationship with God. The Qur'an teaches that we should humble ourselves and realize how Allah is The Lord of All Worlds.
That is because Allah is the Truth, and that which they call upon other than Him is falsehood. If you understand the scriptures, you will not commit the idolatry of scripture. You will not associate anything with The Ultimate or Highest Reality, which is Allah or God. You will not mistake a man for God. The same realization can be achieved by studying The Bible, and The Qur'an acknowledges this. The Qur'an says that The Truth has messengers in All Nations. The Qur'an itself, even in Arabic is a translation of Highest Truth. The Living Word of God is there for everyone to communicate with. It is a personal relationship with The Highest Truth, and it is through diligent prayer, the cleansing of what clouds our discernment, and the acceptance and love for The Truth that we can draw closer to this. Islam is about loving Reality, Truth, and all of Creation which is made in the Image of God. The Qur'an not only acknowledges the message of Jesus and Christianity, but claims that God has sent apostles to All Nations. One of the things that the Qur'an stands up for is the free exercise of religion, and this is based both on how Mohammed governed and on the revelation that God has sent prophets, messengers, and apostles to All Nations. All of this I am saying is PLAINLY written in The Qur'an as translated by The Prophet Mohammed.
I must reiterate the meaning of the word "Islam", which commonly gets translated as "submission". You have to understand that the type of "submission" that is really being described is "acceptance". Specifically, "Acceptance of God", which is described very clearly in Mohammed's translation of The Qur'an as being That Which is Ultimately Real, the same God acknowledged by Moses when he gave The Name, "I Am That I Am", which can also be translated as "The Way Things Are" or "What Is". This is the same message described by Buddha through The Noble Eightfold Path, when you realize the core of the entire Path is to accept things as they truly are, being "right" or "correct'. Allah as described through Mohammed's translation of The Holy Qur'an is very clearly "The Way and It's Virtue" as described in Taoist writings. The writings of the philosophers of Eastern Asia, be them Zen, Taoist, or even Hindu, all testify of this Highest Aspiration. This is the same as Allah, The Reality. Allah is the Arabic word for "God". In Arabic speaking countries, Christians and Jews alike refer to God as "Allah". The point being, Islam is not about enforcing your own understanding of things on other people. Islam is about accepting the world for what it is. It is about respecting the sovereignty of God, and how people have been made to look at things in a multitude of ways. The Word as translated by The Prophet Mohammed says that we should be agents of peace and good will, and that governments are put in place by the will of God, and we should honor our obligations to them. These are not the teachings of a way of life that is harmful for society. Indeed, this way of thinking is conducive to actually getting things done in a peaceful manner while respecting the sovereignty that God has put in place. However, our highest allegiance is always to what is True and Merciful. This is the same way of life as encouraged by scripture universally.
To embody the way of life described as "Islam" in The Holy Qur'an is to be someone who loves truth above all things, treats those who love truth above all things as family, and is merciful towards those who have not the sense to accept reality. It would be patently ridiculous to say that a man who embodies this ideal would be harmful to society. Therefore, it is obvious that any harm inflicted on society from a self identified "Muslim" would not necessarily be a reflection of what it means to be a Muslim.
I have cited many sources, and I hope that the voters understand that it is my intent to communicate the message of Islam as I have interpreted it through my own diligent study of The Qur'an, The Hadith, and the interpretations of many theologians. I believe that it is misleading to single out a passage out of context to make a point, and have faith that anyone who actually cares to understand what they are reading will see what is true for themselves.
The high end estimate for how many recognized Muslims in the world is 23.4%. If we are to work towards peace on Earth, we can not alienate a quarter of the human population by making Islam an enemy. We have to communicate with Muslims, and we are not going to be able to do this unless we understand where they are coming from. There are a lot of forces that play into why things are the way they are in the world, and pinning it down on a way of life that exalts Truth, Acceptance of Reality, and Love towards your fellow man is not a battle that can be won. I pray that the voters in this debate hear the sense that I am speaking, and at the very least open up to the idea that Islam may be something different than what they realize.
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