A concerned reader

Dear all,

A few months back, Paul Williams asked me to write for Blogging Theology, and I enthusiastically accepted. I was thrilled by the prospect of participating in an ongoing interfaith dialog — as a philosophy PhD candidate in a secular university, opportunities for fruitful, in-depth conversations with Muslims on matters on which we disagree are few and far between. So without further ado, I put together a few articles and published them on the blog.

I thoroughly enjoyed the conversations that ensued. I am very grateful to all of those who took the time to read my articles and voice their objections, in a reasonably civil manner. I have taken a step back from blogging due to my other commitments, but frequently visit the blog. And, almost every time, I am saddened and disappointed by what I see.

Insults, vulgarity and cheap shots litter the comment sections. The overall tone of the blog has become absurdly polemical, and frankly bitter. With a few praiseworthy exceptions, I see next to no attempt at thoughtfulness and charity towards other people’s views. Pouring scorn on your ‘enemy’ now seems to be the norm.

Anger of course has its place. But it seems obvious that worthwhile theological discussion only really takes place when all participants agree to be respectful and sufficiently dispassionate.

Which leads me to my main question to you all: what do you think the purpose of this blog should be?

Here are a few options…

(A) To vent out our frustrations

(B) To make inflammatory comments for laughs

(C) To engage in meaningful theological inquiry

(D) Other?
At the end of the day, this is Paul’s house, and the decision is his to take. But I think it makes sense for those of us who care about the blog to have a good think about where it’s going, and where we’d like to see it go.

Looking forward to hearing your thoughts.

God have mercy on us all.


Categories: Islam

32 replies

  1. You know I’m not getting this sudden eruption of touchy feelings coming from many Christians. Where were you people when Sam Shamoun was abusing Muslims on this very blog? And now you get concerned when some of your brethren are getting a taste of their own medicine?

    • QB, notice that I did not single out anyone, or any ‘side’ in particular. There is no need to feel specially targeted.

      Also, it’s got nothing to do with ‘touchy feelings’. I don’t ‘feel’ bad for anyone. I’m just concerned about the quality, reputation and general appearance of this blog. As you can see, some of your fellow Muslims feel the same way.

      • Chris, my point is that I didn’t see you or any other Christians express your “concerns” before, when you all witnessed the ramblings of Shamoun on this very blog. So why now? I am just asking for consistency.

  2. I’m going to semi-agree with QB here (even though I do believe there is antagonism on the Muslim side as well) Most of the time on the blog whenever I attempt to have a civilized discussion I’m greeted with insults.

    Case 1
    Shamoun’s article on the Trinity:


    Again no disrespect and on the topic of the article. Within ONE exchange I was attacked with a barrage of insults as if Shamoun has never interacted with another human being before.

    Case 2
    On the post about the plot hole in the Christian plothole of “blood sacrifices”

    Erasmus is not even on the topic of the post. He is insulting and attempting to derail the conversation with irrelevant tangents:


    Case 3
    Do babies go to Hell according to Christendom?

    Literally, the first post is an insult about Islam and the Prophet(saw).

    Majority of the issues happen because of Missionary trolls. What is actually being complained about is:
    “We just want the Muslims to sit there while their religion is insulted because they won’t curse Jesus(as). Now our feelings are getting hurt because we don’t have the ability to use sarcasm in a cheeky way.”

    I prefer to have a civilized discussion and believe the Muslim posters should be better but respect is a 2-way street and no one is going to sit here and kiss the opposing side’s derriere.

  3. Chris, thank you for this timely contribution.

    I prefer options C and D (being a place of civilised theological debate).

    I have a suggestion as to how we can move forward with this, but I’ll wait for others to comment first.

  4. I think you have a good point, Chris the blog has lost its way somewhat, maybe we could take a zero-tolerance policy on insults (that such comments are deleted, the person warned and them blocked if they repeat this behavior) as well as define what exactly constitutes inflammatory language so we’re all clear as to where the line is drawn.

  5. I prepare option C btw, for peace and smooth discussion to be maintained, respect for opions, decorum and public etiquette should be observed.

  6. Dear Chris,

    Since its comeback br. Paul had outlined the purpose of this blog that is

    1. to write quality work by Muslims, Christians and others on matters to do with theology and associated subjects
    2. to encourage respectful interfaith dialogue and discussion.. and last but not least
    3. to have some fun

    From the stats we see this blog continue to grow in term of visitor and the articles from the contributors are good and stimulating however we need more active and intelligent commenters because despite of  thousands of unique visitors but we see only a few of regular commenters who bother to comment and interact here. I look forward to see more and more visitors from both sides of theological divide contributing  a robust but respectful theological discusion.

    For my fellow muslim brother and sister allow me to remind the following ayaat min Al Qur’an:

    Invite to the way of your Lord with wisdom and good instruction, and argue with them in a way that is best.

    God muqollibal quluub Give hidaayah to whom He Will

    • Good points Eric.

      I propose that those good quality articles which aim to stimulate respectful dialogue and debate (such as those by Eric and Chris) be ringfenced by the clear addition of a red star logo. I’ll explain how this will work in a separate post.

      This will permit those who want to continue the rough and tumble of polemics to have their say in other articles whilst applying strict standards of conduct in the special highlighted posts.

    • Interesting thoughts Eric. Yes, part of the solution might be to invite our (reasonable) friends to contribute to the blog. I may have a few people in mind.

      I suspect that some visitors are put off from commenting by all the trash in the comment sections.

  7. Unfortunately my experience of this site is that proper discussion is conditional upon being a meek ‘yes man’, with respect being entirely absent from certain quarters. I am entirely interested in having decent discussion, but the readiness of certain parties to employ censorship and mockery to differing views has created a poisonous culture here.

    • Well Darth, I hope you’ll be giving this blog another chance, now that measures are being taken to improve things. Looking forward to future discussions 🙂

    • I agree, one major problem seems the inconsistency and double standards of fundamentalist apologetics, in this case from the Muslim side. Objective critical enquiry is used only against the “other” worldview, but rejected for one’s own.

      • “Objective critical enquiry” entails more than just posting a random, vague one sentence response, as you usually do. That shows that you are not interested in a discussion.

        Ugh, all these complaints coming from people who have nothing to show for it…

    • “Unfortunately my experience of this site is that proper discussion is conditional upon being a meek ‘yes man’, with respect being entirely absent from certain quarters. I am entirely interested in having decent discussion, but the readiness of certain parties to employ censorship and mockery to differing views has created a poisonous culture here.”

      This is coming from a guy who just published a post on his blog where he says and I quote:

      “Unfortunately, some of those who sit on the conservative, religious right, are not of sound mind…”

      Hmmm, so I guess “respect” means accusing others of not have a “sound mind”?

      • Given your own appeal to mockery efforts, are you in a position to complain? Besides, what I say on my blog is up to me and is based entirely upon my experiences on this site. You have repeatedly accused me of evasion and distraction without justifying either claim – is that respectful?

      • I am just pointing out your hypocrisy. There seems to be a lot of that going around. People complaining but not really doing much to show any sincerity in maintaining a “civilized” or “respectful” atmosphere for discussion.

        And how exactly is saying that you are evasive (which you are) somehow being disrespectful? Did I say you are crazy or not of “sound mind”? I asked you simple questions and you refused to answer. That seems pretty evasive to me.

      • No hypocrisy – merely honesty, something this site needs a dose of yet sometimes lacks. Like your own, misleading arguments elsewhere, with non-sequiturs set up, along with false dilemmas. Or how about accusing me of being defensive when *you* made assumptions over my religious beliefs and failed to properly heed the answers given?

        False accusations of evasion over irrelevancies are a form of dishonesty, piled upon other acts of dishonesty. Combined with the various appeal to mockery responses I’ve had to deal with on numerous occasions on this site (and its predecessor), I think I am quite entitled to stand by my remarks, here and elsewhere, on the tone and direction this site has undertaken.

      • Bottom-line is that you were the one who was throwing out insults at those who disagree with you and then complained about a lack of “respect”.

        And ironically, I now see you completely avoiding the other thread where I asked you legitimate questions. You just don’t like being put on the spot and seeing your views dissected. If you don’t want to be accused of evasion, then don’t evade! Very simple!

      • What insults? I’ve no ruder to you than you have to me, despite your conflation of the subject in the other read (which I maintain is a form of dishonesty on your part). I am not avoiding the other thread either (I find it wonderfully ironic that accusations of cowardice are respectful conduct in your eyes), I have merely not had the time for a considered response.

        Finally, if you want respect, don’t make false accusations and don’t be dishonest in how you approach subjects. Numerous acts of false equivalence and non-sequiturs on your part don’t make me inclined to take you seriously or give you the respect you think you’re automatically entitled to.

      • So accusing others of not being of “sound mind” doesn’t come off as an insult to you? That pretty much says all there is to say about you. And by the way, I couldn’t care less if you insult me or not. I’m not the one who was complaining about it. You and others were, and I am simply pointing out the hypocrisy. I don’t whine about “insults” like some of the other posters. Nor do I evade legitimate questions and pretend like they don’t matter.

      • For the record, what insults have I aimed at you specifically? Calling into question the minds of people who make arguments that are refuted, only to make them over and over again, is hardly unreasonable, for that is the very definition of insanity. Meanwhile, it’s without a trace of irony that in the other thread, you attacked my courage repeatedly, even as you tried to be obtuse and distract from the true subject of the thread.

      • If you think that accusing others of being of unsound mind is not an insult, then I guess there is no reason to waste anymore time trying to get you to see the irony and hypocrisy of your comments.

        Yes, accusing you of evasion is a legitimate critique, and you are still doing it! See my response you on the other thread. And whereas you asked if I had the “courage” to answer you questions (which I did, and frankly it didn’t require much “courage” anyway, lol), you have been continuously avoiding answering my questions. So either you are a coward, or you just have no courtesy towards others who have different views from yours.

  8. Thank you for this reminder! I have no doubt that most if it’s not all commenters here want a respectful interfaith dialogue and discussion. However, muslims are not obligated by any mean to be silent for the insulting statements began with filthy christians such as Sam. He’s the one who started this! Let’s call as it is and let’s be honest with each other. Also, I’m not shy to say that the responsibility was upon br Paul. He should have blocked that filthy man and deleted his filthy comments, but unfortunately Sam has been given a space to write in instead! I know Paul has the right to mange his blog as he wants, but he should expect this climate to be generated after Sam’s comments, beside that as muslims we know it’s a sin to allow for anyone to insult the prophet pbuh and just leave it under the “excuse” of the freedom of discussion.

  9. You appear to be taking the ‘sound mind’ comment very personally, whilst dishing out insults left right and centre, then moaning about respect. Respect has to be earned. You have so far, via various acts of dishonesty and hypocrisy, failed to earn mine.


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