The Muslim Times featuring: Debate – Tony Blair vs. Christopher Hitchens: Is Religion a Force for Good in the World?

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Prime Minister Tony Blair makes several good points for religion and I thank him for doing so.  What I liked the best about his opening statement was his appeal not to stereotype and not to lump all religious people in one pile for the wrongs committed by a minority.  This should be applied to religion as a whole and also to all individual religions, be it Judaism, Christianity, Islam or Hinduism.  This is indeed a Quranic approach, as the Holy Quran acknowledges the good among the people of the book, even when it is critical of them due to their certain short comings.

Some of the valid criticism against religion about violence that Mr. Hitchens offers may genuinely apply to the Taliban, the Catholic Church and Tony Blair himself, who was one of the authors of the Iraq war.  Blair takes pride in his participation in the Ireland peace process and we applaud him for that.  However, he also claims that his decision to go to war against Iraq was a political one and not motivated by religion.  But, he does not tell us that he would have invaded Iraq even if it were a Christian European country and does not offer us count of the innocent lives lost as a result of his support of the war?  Criticism of Hitchens cannot apply to groups like Quakers and the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community, who have in their total history of 125 years, starting in India, promoted non-violence and service to the whole humanity.  And of course, the criticism would certainly not apply to the Holy Prophet Muhammad, may peace be on him, as he only indulged in defensive warfare as a last resort.

I would urge all commentors to bring out how an Ahmadi Muslim debator could have made better arguments than Tony Blair did and what can we offer to refute some of the criticism that Hitchens offered.  I would certainly try to do that in the introduction section of this debate and as separate comments over time.

Of course, others, non-Muslims and atheists will have the freedom of speech to put forth their ideas, as long as they do it with civility.

Prime Minister Tony Blair, became a Catholic after he left office.  History of Catholic Church, as is acknowledged by many Christians, drips with blood and I have reviewed this in one of my Google-knols:

Hitchens makes a very good point and repeats it several times that often religion is a surrender of one’s reason.  This may be true for many but should not be the case for a genuine believer in a true religion.  If one has tried to search the truth and not blindly followed the faith of one’s birth then in my opinion there is every possibility of rising  above this criticism leveled by Christopher Hitchens.  Click here or on video tab to go to the video page.

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  1. Zubair Khan

    “Some of the valid criticism against religion about violence that Mr. Hitchens offers may genuinely apply to the Taliban” Before commenting on this sentence, one has to see how this debate progresses and what arguments are presented. However I would like to comment from the very outset that to me whole problem lies in the interpretation of Quranic verses. Talibans have their own way of interpretation while Ahmadiyya and others have their own way. Ahmadiyya is strongly convinced to declare its interpretation correct as it has been formulated after recieving revealations directly from God by its founder and then by subsequesnt successors. But this claim of Ahmadiyya is not acceptable to others and how to resolve this issue, to me, will the main crux of this debate.

  2. Zubair Khan

    Another astonishing pehnomenon, which attracted the attetnion of many in Poland, predominantly a Cahtolic country, was the psychology of those practicing the religion and those non practicing. Irrespective of religious belief, practicing relgious minded entities leave deeper impact on society relative to non practicing. Here again the interpretation plays the leading role. How practicing entity has perceived the religion will decide his/her psychology and built up.

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