Debates

Abdullah al Andalusi on BBC1’s ‘The Big Questions’ discusses gambling, suicide and mixing religions

By Abdullah al Andalusi

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I attended and spoke at the BBC 1 programme ‘The Big Questions’ today ). As per usual with the program, the Muslim voice on that show was intended, it seemed to me, to be a token one. I got the impression that the show was designed to attack any traditional religious viewpoints, and they did indeed pressure some Christians who represented such positions. They wanted me to act the role as the ranting, closed minded and intolerant Muslim – and they threw tailored questions at me to elicit a predicted response. Suffice to say, I did not oblige them. So they tried to limit how much I could contribute (the show is more orchestrated a little, then it seems). This becomes noticeable when Nick Campbell (the celebrity show host) consistently cuts me off before I finish my full argument, and  moves on to someone else, whom he gives much more time to elaborate themselves.

However this being the nature of the game, I managed to interject quite forcefully some points to make the Islamic position decisively. I even managed to stump Nick Campbell who used an ill-chosen argument against me.

I made a small comment about the contradictory nature and application of human rights, to grant prisoners a ‘right to die’ when they wish to starve themselves to death – because they should not lose their humans rights as they are still humans, yet deprive them of their human right to freedom. I was then going to go on to show that Liberal Human Rights is full of such contradictions, but was then cut off by the host.

As for gambling, that was a little more interesting. Nick prepared the audience by saying that people do not want to see gambling banned ‘as some people here would want’, but whether some types of gambling activity should be regulated. Nick then came to me, but only after asking me to confirm that the Quran says Gambling is the ‘work of Satan’. I moved straight on to explain the wisdom (hikma) of the Quran’s statements, using simple observations and facts. Nick seemed to wish I just gave a purely dogmatic answer (presumably wanting me merely to say ‘it is just a sin – because God commanded it’!). However,  I disappointed him by making a few strong points about Gambling being a parasitic industry on the economy, providing no benefit, and actually leading to harm over addiction and targeting of the poor. Nick then cut me off quickly again.

Nick then went to another person, a pro-gambling advocate, who made a hilarious argument. I quickly interjected with a simple refutation, to which Nick Campbell intimated that using the same logic of my argument, should we not ban alcohol too?! To which I replied…Yes!  He then realised his mistake saying his point was ‘the right question but to the wrong person’, and went to someone else.

The final question was on whether people can pick and choose whatever they want to believe, while keeping their faith identity. Anyone who has watched the program before, will be no stranger to how it seems Nick Campbell tries to make orthodox Islam (and other religions) look intolerant and backward. He continued this by asking everyone the vague question: “Do you feel the truth of your spirituality?’ To which they responded ‘yes’, before coming to me and asking ‘what are they feeling?’. I got out of that Islam-baiting trap thank God, and made the point that truth exists outside humans, and is not subject to whatever we’d like it to be, and that there is a difference between truth and one’s personal sincerity. I continued by highlighting how Western society, while looking down on religious absolutes, holds ‘Human Rights’ to be an absolute value. I then followed on by saying the minorities have their beliefs dictated to, by the government. I was going to finish by mentioning the fact that Muslims are having their religion dictated to them, and conceptions of what it ‘moderate’ and what is ‘extremist’ thrust upon them – but I was quickly cut off, rendering my last statement partly unintelligible.

I think it is beneficial for Muslims to try their best to express and advocate both religious truth and social critique on these platforms. And despite the fact that they will probably not be given as much time as others – especially when one has very controversial views, they should continue to do so when the opportunity arises.

The 14 min highlights of the 1 hour show can be seen here:

The full copy of the episode can be found here:

4 replies »

  1. i dont get this “jesus fullfilled ”
    how can a god in flesh fullfill a order like “when you pray ,face jerusalem” ? christians dont face jerusalem when they pray, but jews are told to do this in book of daniel. so what does it mean “diety who gave the command to face jerusalem , fullfilled it by facing jerusalem ” this is nonsense. orders are either disobeyed or obeyed by doing them. and “new covenent ” is offensive to jews , because according to them all future prophecies TALK ABOUT RESTORATION/renewal of the earlier laws.

  2. At the start of the debate on religion Nick Campbell asserts that all religions do a bit of ‘pick and mixing from other religions’; the New Testament takes from the Torah, the Qur’an from both and so on.
    Not surprisingly he then turns to the Jewish rabbi who endorses the interfaith viewpoint.

    If he would just have listened to the Muslim viewpoint on this then in shaa Allah he would have been given the best answer, which is that this is not pick and mixing at all because Jews, Christians and Muslims all worship the same God and that the religion He sent is the same, with the same message…our Creator is One and it is our duty to worship Him.

    If Campbell had pointed out that Christians believe something else, then he could have been referred to Mark 12: 28-29 where Jesus answers the question of a Jewish teacher of the law:

    …Of all the commandments, which is the most important?

    The most important one, answered Jesus, is this: (and he quotes directly from Deuteronomy 6:4)
    HEAR O ISRAEL! THE LORD OUR GOD, THE LORD IS ONE
    Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.
    The second is this: Love your neighbor as yourself.
    There is no commandment greater than these.

    If Campbell had then claimed that there are many different sects,versions of Islam, well, there is abundant evidence in the Qur’an that shows that we are definitely forbidden to divide ourselves into different groups, for example, Qur’an 30: 30-32:

    {…So direct your face toward the religion, inclining to truth. [Adhere to] the fitrah of Allah upon
    which He has created [all] people. No change should there be in the creation of Allah . That is the correct religion, but most of the people do not know. [Adhere to it], turning in repentance to Him, and fear Him and establish prayer and do not be of those who associate others with Allah [Or] of those who have divided their religion and become sects, every faction rejoicing in what it has.}

    The debate, however, was not set up so that the questions could be dealt with in a fair, unbiased manner; it was set up to push the viewpoint that everyone’s version of the truth is OK.

    May Allah guide these people to the real truth, His truth.

  3. 🙂 … God is so revealing through conversations like these… Absolute truths: yes but isn’t it possible that there are universal absolute truths found in all traditions and combined with sincere relative perception as an empirical fact, this would only lead to one conclusion: universalism.

  4. First they have to repent and be baptized for the remission of sin-missing the mark of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus who redeemed-paid the ransom for our souls. You were blind and held captive in darkness until the day star of light and unconditional love shined on your heart that you opened to receive the Savior and creator of this universe. You are dust and in Him you live and have your being.Please escape the wrath of God and do away with your stony heart and be transformed in the renewing of your mind so that when you pass away for death has passed upon all men,you will escape its sting that Jesus will take for you.Love your enemies and love God with all your mind,heart and strength.God truly bless each of you on this show-see you in heaven as meetig you here on earth is very unlikely.Enjoyed the show very much-it’s after midnight here in Atlanta,Georgia USA

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