9 thoughts on “Mona Siddiqui, professor of Islamic studies, New College, University of Edinburgh

  1. A mostly secular, common sense contribution from Mona.
    I’d disagree with her about needing some sort of faith to carry on. We often don’t have a choice in hard times yet we plough on regardless. Like other animals, we keep going and it’s only our human ability to consider our circumstances which leads to questioning our motivation – this is where the religious insert their IMFs.
    It’s a nasty element of religions which keeps hold of their flocks – after all, what meaning & purpose will you have if you doubt/lose the source of your meaning & purpose?


    1. I’ve seen those nature documentaries where the poor animal is injured but keeps going right to the end of its life. Why wouldn’t humans do the same? We are an animal first and a thinking animal second. Even when terminally ill people enter hospices they generally continue to hope for the best even in the bleakest settings. This thinking may be changed by whichever religious or secular view you are inculcated into, but it is that animal instinct first and nothing to do with a supernatural entity.
      In 2004 BBC Horizon made a programme about autistic people. An adult showed a three year old child an object, a toy boat I think, and put it into a box, closing the lid. The adult tapped two or three times on the box and took the object back out. They then put the object back into the box and asked the child to take it out. Of the non-autistic children, most tapped on the box before removing the object. The autistic children didn’t. I remember being profoundly affected by this show of trust in the adult. Because what I realised was what if you replace the tapping of the box by saying “You have to pray to Jesus to get the object out of the box”? Imagine the trust you build up in your supernatural father figure if you are told to pray to him every day of your childhood by those you trust the most? What other unnecessary things do you do in your life that don’t help you move forward? Touching wood? Carrying a lucky rabbits foot? Crossing yourself as you enter the sports field? Praying to your IMF before you take the object out of the box?
      So Mona, what trust should be about is teaching children (and adults) reason and humanity and how to live a good life and not putting unnecessary ideas into their minds.


  2. She’s right: trust probably is hard-wired into us. As children, we trust what adults tell us, because on the whole that increases our chances of surviving to become adults ourselves. The trouble is that adults don’t always give children trustworthy advice, which is why religious indoctrination at a young age is so dangerous.

    Still, we do grow up, and we do have to learn who and what to trust. And we can best do this not through blind faith or submission to authority, but by paying attention to what other people actually say and do, and by trying to make use of evidence and reason. This may, however, entail discarding some of the beliefs that we picked up when we were children. That’s often a bit harder to do.


  3. How does Mona’s faith allow her and other muslims to square / rationalise / dismiss / remain silent of the recent spate of atrocities perpetrated on the streets of Europe by those of the same faith. How am I to trust that a furtive looking muslim male is not going to take a knife to my throat or riddle me with bullets.

    Its a topical subject after all and I would like to hear faith based feedback.


    1. “How am I to trust that a furtive looking muslim male is not going to take a knife to my throat or riddle me with bullets.”

      How will you know he’s Muslim? How do you know that any furtive looking male is not going to do you harm?


      1. You are avoiding the point. The muslim population needs to speak up in condemnation of these atrocities and the awful hateful bigotted responses from people like Imran Kahn and the cleric who said that muslims have the right to kill millions of French citizens.


    2. The late and sadly missed Christopher Hitchens was once asked how he would react to meeting a group of males on a street at night, and whether he would feel more or less safe if he was told that they had just come from a prayer meeting. He replied that, just to stay within the letter ‘B’, he had actually had that experience in Belfast, Beirut, Bombay, Belgrade, Bethlehem and Baghdad, and that in each case he would have felt threatened if he knew that the group was of a religious persuasion.

      From ‘God is not Great’. Still a good read!


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