Ayaan Hirsi Ali: In Praise of the Unqualified

Robert Spencer, a self-proclaimed ‘expert’ on Islam, as far as I can tell from Wikipedia, would appear to have no academic qualifications at all in Islamic history, or the Qur’an, or Arabic, or usul ul fiqh, or hadith, or the sirah. So Ayaan Hirsi Ali’s high estimation of Spencer’s knowledge of Islam, in contrast to his academically qualified critics (of whom there are legions), would appear to be rather misplaced.

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Categories: Catholicism, Christian extremism, Islamophobia

22 replies

  1. Interesting point. Let me turn the tables though. How many degrees does Paul Williams have in Quran, Hadith, Fiq, Dawah, etc? None, but at the same time I know that you’ve taken the time to do a lot of research into Islamic sources. How about all of the Muslim apologists who frequent Speakers corner, most of whom are quite sharp I might add. Do they all have academic qualifications?

    My only University degree is in Engineering but if that is all I’m allowed to be an authority on, then I believe that to be a waste of all of the research I’ve done. Just throwing out my opinion.

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    • Of course Paul Williams has no advanced degrees on Islam or Christianity. To promote him however as an authority on Christianity is quite stupid, don’t you think?
      Suppose I advanced an opinion on a critical issue and noted at the end “This is also the view of Paul Bilal Williams”. You surely would laugh me off and simply dismiss the view.
      Get why we do not take Spencer and his co-idiots seriously now?

      Liked by 2 people

    • Well, most Christians have never heard of Paul Williams so it would be pointless to promote him in that way. However, if I heard a Biblical theory and heard that Paul Williams subscribes to it, I would certainly take a deeper look. Paul is a smart guy. Doesn’t mean that I would agree but it’s worth taking a second look.

      I guess I can’t rely on CS Lewis or GK Chesteron in regards to Christianity now, can I? They don’t have academic credentials in Christianity.

      Let me put my method out there. Letters after your name are worthless in my eyes. If you can’t back your arguments up with facts, logic and references, it’s pointless. I’m not a fan of Spencer either actually, but I will critique him on what he says, not what letters are after his name.

      There is a joke amongst Catholics that letters before your name aka “St.” are far more important than letters after it aka “PhD”.

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    • You’re making a flawed analogy, Paul never claimed that he was an all out expert on Islam, he never bragged about making talks on Islam at Princeton and whatnotm he never authored dozens of books claiming to represent his knowldge on Islam….

      Liked by 1 person

    • If Princeton invited Paul to talk about Islam, would he decline? He’s been invited to Cambridge to dialogue with the Archbishop of Canterbury on the Christian vs Islamic view of Jesus.

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    • I’m gutted that you missed my arguments by miles Mr Ruhl. Always have thought of you as the smart guy who takes his time to understand his opponent.
      Of course Paul Williams is very smart. To however hold onto his opinion and promote it as ‘academic’ (because he supposedly knows about christianity more than christians) is absurd. This seems to be the least error the Spencer and Hirsi fans make. Jeremiah Johnston in his only debate with Adnan Rashid clearly illustrates my words better.
      Amateurs could write and challenge scholarly positions. However, when they deviate from consensus without offering reasonable arguments to support the theories, no law binds us to accept it. That Spencer has always done. I often find myself laughing whenever my mind flashes back to his arguments against the existence of Muhammad (SAW). As another amateur noted “The burden of proof he places on Islam is outragingly inane”.

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    • Speakers Corner are a bunch of nobodies getting together to have a yelling match, Robert Spencer is claiming to be a full on expert on Islam and is using this claim to share some ideas that are harmful and marginalizing against Muslims.

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    • I never said that Paul Williams was ‘academic’. Robert Spencer is not ‘academic’ either. All of his books are popular books published by mainline publishers. Nothing that he’s published has been from a University Press. Not even the quote from Ayaan Hirsi Ali said he was an academic.

      Paul Williams just seemed to point out that Ali called Spencer an expert but he has no degrees in Islam. I simply pointed out that you don’t need to have a degree to know something well.

      Also, we both agree on the last statement. Any statement coming from Spencer, Williams, or anyone has to be backed up by fact or argument otherwise it’s worthless.

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    • Allan Ruhl

      You said;
      Paul Williams just seemed to point out that Ali called Spencer an expert but he has no degrees in Islam. I simply pointed out that you don’t need to have a degree to know something well.

      I say;
      In Islam knowing the classical Arabic language is a requirement for one to know Islamic theology and be able to make judgement, which David Wood and Robert Spencer lacks in this debate. It was pointed out clearly to them.

      It is obligatory for a Muslim scholar to cite his verse in Arabic before interpreting it in any language to get credibility. Islamic scholars often cite Quran verses in Arabic first to be sure they interpret it correct. So, David Wood and Robert Spencer are not experts in Islam.

      Aayan Ali Hirsi, Nabeel Quraish, Walid Shoebat etc. are liars who are not experts in Islam but cashing on ignorant Christians who do not want to learn.

      Thanks.

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    • Allan Ruhl

      This is the debate. It is pointed to David Wood and Robert Spencer that, Muslims will not accept anyone who does not have absolute control in classical Arabic interpreting and making judgement on Quran and Islam.

      Thanks.

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    • So Intellect,

      So you would agree with me then that a degree is not required to be an expert? All you pointed out was their lack of knowledge of the language, which is a whole different discussion btw.

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    • You do make me remember a class I had while I was at the university. A friend who was presenting a research topic made a case by simply citing a well known amateur in Materials Engineering. My lecturer (in his characteristic fashion) mocked and ridiculed his arguments. At the end of it all, he said:
      “Never call a Person who has no advanced degrees on a subject an ‘expert’. At best, refer to him as ‘Technically informed”.
      Neither of the silly hate preachers is known to possess a basic degree in Islamic Theology. I hence object to freely gifting them the title ‘Experts’.

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    • I guess we’ll just have to agree to disagree at this point. You and your Engineering prof care about letters after the name. Okay, fair enough. You can have those standards.

      On the other hand, I care about substance. Can they give facts and arguments to back up what they’re saying. That’s what I care about.

      Thanks for the discussion.

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    • Allan: I guess we’ll just have to agree to disagree at this point. You and your Engineering prof care about letters after the name. Okay, fair enough. You can have those standards. On the other hand, I care about substance. Can they give facts and arguments to back up what they’re saying. That’s what I care about.

      Here’s the thing Allan. If academic scholars don’t recognize Spencer and his works (and they don’t) it follows his works don’t embody substance. It does not matter if some random guy on the internet thinks otherwise. Random guys on the internet aren’t the measure of scholarship.

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    • What is a degree?

      Here is it;

      an academic rank conferred by a college or university after examination or after completion of a course of study, or conferred as an honor on a distinguished person.
      “a degree in zoology”
      synonyms: diploma, academic program; baccalaureate, bachelor’s, master’s, doctorate, Ph.D.
      “she completed her degree in three years”

      Source: https://www.google.ca/search?q=what+is+a+degree&rlz=1C1AVFC_enCA762CA762&oq=what&aqs=chrome.0.69i59j69i57j0l4.2938j0j7&sourceid=chrome&ie=UTF-8

      Yes, ask any Muslim and he will tell you before anyone could make a judgement on Islam, one has to study classical Arabic as one of the requirements to become an expert. There are many requirements. David Wood and Robert Spencer has not met any of the requirements, so they are not qualified to tell us what the Quran is saying.

      Anyone who quotes Aayan Ali Hirsi as his proof of expertise in Islam is really a child. What academic qualification does she have? zero, except to lie like Nabeel Quraish to cash on Christians who are lazy to learn.

      In addition, the Quran said, we Muslims must use our common sense, so scholars alone cannot convince us except with our intellect to analyze what a scholar is saying that agrees or is close to the Quran.

      So, an Islamic expert must have studied classical Arabic thoroughly as one of the requirement to become an expert and one will normally get his/her credentials after the course. Those who complete such courses and receive their credentials call it degree, diploma, certificate etc. David, Spencer, Aayan Ali etc. don’t have it, so the cannot tell us what the Quran is saying.

      Dr. John L. Esposito, an Islamic scholar at Georgetown university who is a Christian and of course knows classical Arabic always refutes the Islamophobes. Dr. Graig Considine, another Islamic scholar at a university who is a Christian always refutes the Islamophobes.

      Dr. Hazelton, Dr. Ingrid Matson, Karyn Armstrong who researched on Islam in the middle east etc. does not interpret the Quran like David, Aayan, Spencer and co.

      Spencer and co. must go back to Islamic school and become experts in Islam and Arabic if they want to be credible.

      Thanks.

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    • Allan Ruhl

      You said;
      On the other hand, I care about substance. Can they give facts and arguments to back up what they’re saying. That’s what I care about.

      I say;
      Islam accepts backing up facts with classical Arabic, science of hadith, fiq, seerah, naw etc. Mention the words in Arabic and analyze it because a word in Arabic has so many context and understandings. Fight the polytheists, kafir or disbelievers who broke their treaty with you does not mean fight all disbelievers.

      Kafir (Arabic: كافر‎‎ kāfir; plural كفّار kuffār; feminine كافرة kāfirah) is an Arabic term (from the root K-F-R “to cover”) meaning “unbeliever”, or “disbeliever”.

      The Quran said fight those who fight you. Fight the disbelievers of course are the disbelievers who fights you or broke their treaty with you. It is a simple Arabic language that one must understand except the interpreter is influenced by satan. That’s what Spencer and co. who do not have qualification in Islam are doing. It is dangerous to our world.

      Thanks.

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  2. I just can’t stand the smug on his face.

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  3. Ali was a disgraced fraud in the Netherlands, but interestingly the propaganda machine in the US has rehabilitated her as a victim and an expert of Islam. Now she’s even part of the self-described neocon group known as the American Entreprise Institute, along with the likes of John Bolton and Paul Wolfowitz.

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