Hugh Fitzgerald: “I’m a Muslim — Ask Me AnythingA Muslim ex-Marine has been travelling across country with a sign: “I’m A Muslim And A U.S. Marine — Ask Anything.”
He’s one of a small army of I’m-A-Muslim-Ask-Me-Anything propagandists, moving about our land, attracting small groups of onlookers, and then posting his exchanges with them, which always end with a hug from a newly-enlightened non-Muslim, on YouTube. Here’s one treacly example.
The questions posed are usually of the most anodyne and simple-minded sort, but even these sometimes require a little prefabricated taqiyya, delivered in the most deeply sincere way. In order to make it easier for those who’d like to upset the applecart of these ambulatory propagandists, I’ve made a list of “anythings” that you might want to ask, should you run across one of these Ask-Me-Anything Muslims. Of course, there is always the possibility that once your interlocutor realizes that you actually know something about Islam, and taqiyya is out of the question, he might accuse you of being an “Islamophobe” not interested in “real dialogue,” and attempt to get those onlookers to take his side against you, the troublemaker. You have to be ready with sweetness-and-light, affecting an innocent goshdarnit I-just-want-to-know attitude, which may help, experience suggests, to keep the bystanders on your side and increasingly skeptical of the Ask-Me-Anything mountebank.
You should come prepared with a few dozen questions, to which you possess the answers, with the relevant supporting passages from the Qur’an or Hadith or Sira easily retrievable from your smartphone or notecards. Even though your Muslim interlocutor sees that you are well-prepared, he can’t cut you off right away; he’s got to let you ask at least a few anythings. He may try to find excuses to end the entire Q-and-A session, or at least to stop taking your questions. But that will make him look bad, which is precisely what you want. All of a sudden, the Muslim who made such a big deal about his openness shows himself unwilling to answer perfectly reasonable questions. Your goal is to rattle him, to get him to try to cut you off in front of others, who will then realize that this business of “Ask Me Anything” stops the minute anyone raises an unappetizing aspect of Islam. You’ve spoiled his game, no matter what he does.
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