What was missing from the Ben Affleck and Bill Maher Islam debate

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Bill Maher. Photo courtesy Angela George via Wikimedia Commons.

Bill Maher. Photo courtesy Angela George via Wikimedia Commons.

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Ben Affleck, Bill Maher, and Sam Harris debated Islam over the weekend. But their debate was lacking something incredibly important: The voices and perspectives of Muslims and ex-Muslims.

  • Thanks for this opportunity, Chris! I would recommend Jerusha T. Lamptey, author of Never Wholly Other and asst. prof. of Islam and Ministry at Union Theological Seminary in NYC.

  • Exactly! We should listen to all sides, not just the ones who fit our worldview.

  • Chris

    Tariq Ramadan

  • Doc Anthony

    Hmm. I would have suggested the two Muslim writers who used to write for RNS. Omar Sacirbey and Omid Safi. Either one would have set that bonehead boo-boo-brain Maher straight.

    (No, I’m not calling names. I’m just striving for accuracy in writing.)

    By the way, how come we don’t see Sacirbey’s or Safi’s articles anymore on RNS??

  • Josue

    Maajid Nawaz,
    ex-extremist and ex-jihadist. Author of Radical, which narrates his story and transformations.





  • Josue

    I’m recommending your article to Maajid, Chris. He has also been commenting about this debate on his FB page. He is very active, as a Muslim, in countering ISIS at the grassroot level in England.

  • socialjusticeNOW!

    In the US media, Moslem voices are limited to white-washed moderates such as Tariq Ramadan and Reza Aslan. This marginalizes and erases the lived experiences of non-moderate Muslims, most of whom are economically colonized POCs.

    For a real debate, the scope of Moslem voices we are allowed to hear must widen. Americans should be allowed to hear voices such as Abu Usamah at-Thahabi:


    I, too, hope that voices such as his will soon be included in forums such as Bill Maher’s show so that we may see true pluralism.

  • “And yet, without the voices of ex-Muslims or pluralistic Muslims on the Real Time panel, the discussion was itself an example of the problem.”

    Well, good luck talking to the ‘ex-muslims’. They tend to be dead.

    Muslims who announce anything other than complete belief in Allah are executed for apostasy. Just ask the Saudi Government what they will do to ex-Muslims.

    Infidels are those who declare: “God is the Christ, the son of Mary.” (Sura 5:17)
    1. Infidels are those who say ‘God is one of three in a Trinity.” (Sura 5:73)
    2. Make war on the infidels who dwell around you. (Sura 9:123)
    3. The infidels are your sworn enemies. (Sura 4:101)
    4. When you meet the enemy in the battlefield, strike off their heads. (Sura 47:4)
    5. Mohammed is Allah’s apostle. Those who follow him are ruthless to infidels. (Sura 48:29)
    6. Prophet, make war on the infidel. (Sura 66:9)
    7. Kill the disbelievers wherever we find them. (Sura 2:191)
    8. Believers, take neither the Jews nor the Christians for your friends. (Sura 5:51)
    9. Believers, do not make friends with those who have incurred the wrath of Allah. (Sura 60:13)
    10. Never be a helper to the disbelievers. (Sura 28:86)
    11. Fight those who believe not in Allah. (Sura 9:29)
    12. The only reward of those who make war on Allah and His messenger….will be that they will be killed or crucified, or have their hands and feet on alternate sides cut off. (Sura 5:33)

    If following a religion literally is too dangerous, what does that say about the value of the religion?

  • Ayaan Hirsi Ali

    She tried to be a moderate voice and now her life is threatened. By other Muslims.

    Malala Yousufzai

    She tried to be a moderate, by going to school. She was shot.
    Even though she was only 10 years old.

    “Slay the infidel wherever you find them” – (Surah)

  • Karla

    What was missing from the debate was someone saying that no true prophet
    can be revered if they are a liar so if Jesus wasn’t the Son of God He was a
    liar and can’t be revered or a true prophet so either Jesus was a liar or He
    was who He says He is which is the Messiah/the only way to heaven! Noboby
    saw any of the so called “miracles” from the prophet of Islam and there is a
    former muslim who speaks around the world because he realized his faith
    didn’t make any sense, People saw the miracles Jesus did and saw Him
    after He rose from the dead. The Bible can be trusted because of all the
    prophecy that came true with 100% accuracy. The muslim faith says you
    have to earn your way to heaven and have no real assurance when you
    die if you are saved or not but with the Bible it says if you Repent and then
    trust in Jesus you go to heaven! Jesus is the Messiah/only way to heaven!

  • gilhcan

    Daring to distort your blunt name-calling as “accuracy in writing” is as logically distorted as having to resort to name-calling in any discussion.

  • Here’s an editorial by Waleed Shahid that I really liked:

  • Chris

    Who saw the purported miracles of a “messiah” which may not have ever even existed? The bible as a source cannot make its own claims to such special knowledge and then be considered as objective evidence. That’s like me saying I’m a god because I said so.

  • Karla

    Chris-Bible prophecy that came true is why we can trust the Bible. People
    that didn’t even believe in Jesus lied and said His body was stolen after He
    rose from the dead. Read the Case for Christ by Lee Strobel. God bless.

  • Chris

    Karla–The bible and Strobel are way to constricting for my tastes.

  • Art

    Four major world empires all foretold before they existed… Babylon, Medo-Persia, Greece and Rome. Verified by the dead sea scrolls, hundreds of years later; virtually word for word. Virtually is that little hook made available for all of those who would like to hang their doubts upon. As for me; proven basic history 101. Is there a Creator? Yes! Can He predict the future? Yes! Can He prove He is real to any that ask? Virtually!

  • rob

    I read that they are Jewish from a Jewish site…

    Jewish people like the Navajo trace through their moms linage ..

  • There is no such thing as a “moderate” Muslim. If you claim you are a Muslim, then you adhere to the Koran, and the Koran says…see Max above: kill anyone not a Muslim and kill the apostate, dominate the world. A Muslim who says he/she is a moderate and wants peace is not being truthful. In fact, they are taught to lie to anyone who is not a Muslim. Just read what Arafat was overheard saying after the summit with Clinton and the Israelis: he admitted what he agreed to meant nothing to him and he had no intention of keeping his word. It is NOT SAFE having Muslims in our communities, but I guess we’ll have to wait and see on that one.

  • KC

    Might I offer a counterpoint to this?

    Not that I disagree with having Muslims or ex-Muslims on Real Time; but isn’t having A Muslim or even several Muslims on to speak for Muslims in a way analogous to the kind of “broad-brush” approach that Maher’s critics (erroneously in my view) accuse him of taking?

    If you can’t speak of all Muslims as a monolith (and you shouldn’t) how does having one or even several Muslims any different? In a diverse religion of 1.6 billion people how can anyone purport to be in any sense a “representative” of Islam or represent the totality of the Muslim experience? You’d probably need thousands of guests randomly selected to provide a meaningful cross-section of the “Muslim world”.

    It seems to me that a liberal Muslim can no more speak for a conservative Muslim than Bill Maher can.

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