Kamal El MekkiThe Islamic Education and Research Academy are advertising a talk with its leaders and a man named Kamal El Mekki. A Sudanese preacher, he is said to be “the Black Belt of Dawah” such is his proficiency in evangelism. He has a chirpy stage presence. You can tell he likes a laugh. He refers to gays, for example, as “those people with the loose limbs and ligaments”. Perhaps homosexuals would take this with a sense of humour, though perhaps not from someone who is speaking alongside a man who said they deserve “slow and painful death”.

On the subject of apostasy, El Mekki is quick to state that someone is free to lose their belief in Allah if they “keep quiet about it”. “The minute you make it public,” though, in an Islamic state, you can be detained, questioned, threatened with a sword and executed. El Mekki jokes about the supposed ridiculousness of being troubled by this belief when we are not living in an Islamic state. Most amusing. Of course, if someone said they wanted to create an atheistic state in which Muslims would be killed I think El Mekki would be vexed. The knowledge that someone thinks you worthy of death is inherently troubling, and you are bound to oppose their attempts to pass such beliefs onto others.

El Mekki’s justification for waving swords in peoples’ faces before killing them is that they might “spread the doubt”. Here he is, wandering about the Western world, cheerfully spreading doubts among nonbelievers and Christians, and he admits that if he lived among Muslims, people who behaved like him but promoted a different belief would be executed. Such Islamic evangelism seems hypocritical.

More than this, it seems redolent with insecurity. Doubting beliefs can be a good thing, showing that doubters one take beliefs, and the truths one thinks underpin them, seriously. Doubters give us chances to engage with criticisms of our ideas and, if they are found to be without merit, reaffirm their validity to them and others who might have adopted their perspective. To express a doubt can be to open up the windows of one’s mind and invite air to sweep away its cobwebs. In how many dank and murky heads might doubts have grown in Muslim lands where people are too afraid to open the curtains?

It is true, of course, that humans are unreasonable beings who can sometimes accept arguments for reasons other than their validity but as dawah practitioners are always trumpeting their achievements you would think that they would be confident that their ideas would win out. You would also think that a God that supposedly gave us free will and the means with which to evaluate arguments would want us to make use of them, and to arrive at a belief in him of our own accord and not because of threats or mindless acquiescence.

Apparently not. God, in their eyes, is a being who has made his existence mysterious; given us minds with which to analyse mysteries and then demanded that enthusiastic belief and worship must be enforced by intimidation and capital punishment. How peculiar. People have the right to believe this, of course, but we are free to maintain that it seems like an obscurantist insult and brutal threat to human beings. I just thought that I would make that public.

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