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Yes, Richard Dawkins, a Muslim baby is a Muslim baby. Because that’s just how it works

19 January 2014 General 39 Comments Email This Post Email This Post
Obviously a Lutheran.

Obviously a Lutheran.

By  (Telegraph)

A few days ago, Richard Dawkins wrote to the Times to complain that they had referred to “Muslim babies”. Because, in his view, a baby isn’t a fully developed human being so it can’t possibly be conscious of being a Muslim.

Sigh.

Richard Dawkins is just an Angry of Tunbridge Wells with a PhD. Let me define that. He is a prejudiced pedant who goes through newspapers looking for small things that irritate him greatly. On this subject he is – yet again – wrong. I’d prefer to ignore him but then my wonderful friend and colleague Tom Chivers decided to write a blog saying he might have a point. So, because Tom is my buddy and I want him to get good with God, I have to offer a brief note of correction.

A Muslim baby is a Muslim baby for two reasons. First, because that’s how Islam works. Dawkins might not believe in Islam but Muslims generally do, and they think that all humans are innately Muslim and that life is a process of submitting to that state of grace. This is common to most faiths, the hope that all humans belong to God whether they can truly comprehend Him or not. As a Catholic, I believe that Christ died for all of us – including children. Ergo, because the baby is a gift from God, because it has been baptised with water and because Jesus died for it – that baby is, in some way, a Christian. The baptism reminds us that salvation is a favour from God, not something we can 100 per cent determine ourselves, and it is vital to save us from sin. Of course, the child isn’t confirmed or confessing. But it’s one of us. Welcome to the family and seventy years of feeling guilty about stuff.

Second, a Muslim baby is a Muslim baby because that’s how culture works. When a baby is born it inherits more than genes. For instance, we call it British, which by Dawkins’ logic is a silly thing to do. After all, it cannot possibly drink tea, hate the French or laugh at Carry On films. Yet by dint of its parents being British and living in Britain, it is British. Because it will be raised so, it will only become more British as it gets older. Likewise, if your parents are Jewish and you are circumcised and raised in a Jewish household … you are Jewish – even if you cannot technically be aware of the fact. Does Dawkins imagine that children can somehow be protected from all identities until a certain age of reason: given no nationality or, for that matter, no surname?

Of course he doesn’t – he’s not that foolish. But he does get very excited about people being labelled by religion because – if you hadn’t already noticed – he has an irrational hatred of religion. As if being raised Anglican will turn you into a monster.

What kind of person attends a Christening, observes the toothy vicar, cake, jelly and drunken aunts and thinks, “This is pure brainwashing!” Richard, if you really are creeped out by infant baptisms then you don’t have to go to them. We’ll just bore you with hundreds of photos afterwards instead.

Original post: Yes, Richard Dawkins, a Muslim baby is a Muslim baby. Because that’s just how it works

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39 Comments »

  1. okay now I’m totally confused – I went along with Dawkins argument along these lines and now you’ve just made sense too. arrrggh my head.

  2. additionally, Muslim babies have birth rights performed on them immediately after conception, and then again a week later and so on and so forth. From BIRTH, babies are initiated into the fold of Islam by their parents. And yes- we believe that babies are innately Muslim. I’d like to see the argument that Mohammad Mohammed born of Mohammad Abdullah and Fatimah Aziz, in Pakistan, isn’t actually born a Muslim *eyeroll*

  3. To be fair, he is not necessarily an Islamophobe – he is against any and all religions.

  4. I’m so happy to see people that aren’t overt Christians call Dawkins out on his bs.

  5. Nobody is of any religion until they can understand what it is that they are claiming as their religion.

  6. “Dawkins might not believe in Islam but Muslims generally do” hahaha, best line ever!!!

  7. I get Dawkins point, though that is in line with his Atheist thinking. I don’t take it as Islamophobia though, just religion-phobia in general.

  8. I don’t know I agree with him. I also don’t think it’s really appropriate to indoctrinate children into a belief system. I know in Islam children start getting introduced to certain religious practices at age two and is sort of a bonding thing. I don’t like how society imposes spiritual and gender identity from the day we are born. It’s weird. I personally just don’t get it.

  9. Babies can’t be Muslim, they have no sense of self awareness, especially not enough to choose a religion.

    Religion is a cancer. I’m against racism, but I agree with Dawkins fully in terms of ant-theism.

  10. That last sentence made me laugh.

  11. Everyone’s born an atheist.

  12. Years of giving pennies to save “pagan babies” so makes total sense to me.

  13. It’s a humanist until it’s indoctrinated to a cult on one form or another

  14. A pedantic, misogynist, white supremacists, pedophile apologist’s words are worthless.

  15. Muslim…A baby cannot be a Muslim for the same reason people are not to drink alcohol while practicing Islam. If you don’t understand the words don’t say them. A baby is without knowledge therefore cannot say the Shahada and understand it’s meaning. It’s also why people who only speak English should never say salat in Arabic. You need a understanding of what’s being said to you or what you’re saying to make it valid and acceptable to Allah(swt). Each culture should say salat in their native language if they in fact do not speak Arabic. If you disagree then you disagree with the reasoning behind the prohibition on Alcohol in Islam. Can’t have your cake and eat it too, as they say…

  16. If you see my wife and me out with our baby and my wife is wearing hijab and you can see we are muslim are you gonna say what are they doing with that little buddist baby?

  17. I think it stems to the idea that it is wrong to “indoctrinate” children into your beliefs instead of allowing them to explore for themselves. I won’t go so far to tell others what to do but I will raise my own children this way while teaching them to respect others beliefs.

  18. There’s no such thing as an Islamic baby or a Muslim baby. Just because people think it is so doesn’t mean the child is informed enough to know what Islam is or who the prophet is, or what it believes in. Secondly, when a baby is born, it is USUALLY given citizenship in the country to which it is born by the government of that country. It isn’t inherited.

    You’re making the logical fallacy of asserting that a culture is an inherited trait, when it isn’t. A culture depends entirely on the environment that you are raised in. E.G. If an atheist couple adopted a young baby that belonged to Muslim parents who were (for whatever reason) unable or unwilling to care for the child, there’s no reason to believe the child would be predisposed to be a Muslim or belong to Islam.

  19. Does the hatred of all religion constitute Islamophobia? I support your work and your terrific website. But Dawkins has no more ire for Islam than for any other religion. Labeling him an Islamophobe is like saying that a misanthrope is by definition racist, because he or she hates people of all races.

  20. Who is this trash? Why do we respond to his stupidity ?

  21. British is a nationality. I fail to see the logic there. One is a nationality by citizenship. One can be born British by being born a citizen of Great Britain. A religion is a choice.

  22. Who cares what Dawkins says? LOL. Not this Muslim ….nor my Muslim babies. :-)

  23. Dawkins is correct that when a child is born, it has no religion. It’s born into a family that has a particular religion and that family goes onto socialize that child into their religion. I don’t support Islamophobia, but I do support people bringing up their children with reason so they can make their own choices in life.

  24. Dawkins is correct that when a child is born, it has no religion. It’s born into a family that has a particular religion and that family goes onto socialize that child into their religion. I don’t support Islamophobia, but I do support people bringing up their children with reason so they can make their own choices in life.

  25. Well said, sisters! Ya Allah! I truly and sincerely feel bad for lost souls such as that of Dawkins’! May Allah swt guide him isA…it’s happened to stranger, more wretched individuals when Allah willed it.

  26. Mr. Dawkins is actually correct, he is saying that religion is taught not a genetic trait. A child born to Muslim parents raised without learning anything about Islam would not be Islamic. His comments regarded Muslim as a religion not as a ethnicity.

  27. he obviously isn’t educated about Islam, and being the near perfect state of submission…it’s the second or third thing that one learns about when learning about Islam, right behind there is only one God , and Muhammed was his last and greatest prophet…Dawkins needs to pick up a book…

  28. atheist

  29. In this context, who are truly ACTING like babies?

  30. I have to agree to really be a Muslim or to believe anything in general one has to understand what it is first otherwise it’s meaningless.

  31. I have to agree to really be a Muslim or to believe anything in general one has to understand what it is first otherwise it’s meaningless.

  32. Way to miss the point. Babies are all born with no concept of God and no need to believe in God. Any God. This includes Allah. In a literal sense, no, there aren’t any Muslim babies, much like there are no Hindu babies or Christian babies. There are no religious babies. Dawkins was a literalist, please don’t try to search for islamophobia where it doesn’t exist.

  33. no, nationalism is automatically gained at birth. so yes, at birth, one can be ‘british’. that doesn’t conflict with dawkin’s argument, because the child doesn’t need to have a understanding of nationalism to fall under a given country’s legal protections.

    however, throwing a religion on a baby (any religion), to soothe your own personal dogma, is quite a different story altogether. at least let your child be of the age where he can comprehend the fairy tales being told to him, before you start shoving them down his throat. and you wonder why so many people run from catholicism as young adults who were forced to endure it their entire childhood against their will.

  34. I go with Dawkins on this one.
    Calling a baby Muslim,Christian or atheist sounds awkward.

    A baby is just that, a baby.

  35. Posts like this, though relevant for common consumption, often divide people into polar opposites because Intelligence takes a back seat while people display their creative abilities to display utter ignorance of the subject. What’s unfortunate, in addition to Dawkins’ rather shallow view of religion in general and Islam specifically, is that people are ignorant of their state of ignorance (what Norman Daniel and others have called ‘compound ignorance’). For example there is the almost complete absence of knowledge among most commentators of the Islamic position(s) on anything from religion to science and everything in between. In Islamic philosophy and study of physics (as well as theology and spirituality) all matter in its various forms is considered in a state of submission to the Will of the Creator (via intensely complex immutable but conceivable laws). Islam is thus understood to be a term not only descriptive within a religious context but also a philosophical and scientific one. Therefore the term ‘Muslim’ (one who is in submission to the Creator) applies to a person’s spiritual, mental, and physiological reality – all aspects of the human self. Babies are born within the structures of the laws of physics, and therefore and in accordance to Islam, are in a physiological state of submission to the Will of the Creator. If Dawkins wishes to argue that babies ought to be labeled only from a physiological perspective, then he should advocate it clearly, despite the inadequacy and ignorance this argument would express, since babies are born within social and cultural realities that play a strong role their self identification and view of reality.

  36. Branding someone as ignorant only because the one doesn’t conform to your world view is pinnacle of ignorance and arrogance.

    Only because a group of humans BELIEVE so and so does not make it necessarily TRUE.

    So leave a space for disagreement without being spiteful.

  37. Why do we include innocent children in ideas such as religion, culture and nationalism? Can’t we just treat them as human beings who have so much to discover in this world?

  38. Everyone is missing the point that it was not Muslims labeling the baby Muslim but a non religious newspaper. Dawkins objected to the newspaper doing this.

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