Fatwa envy

From RationalWiki
Jump to navigation Jump to search
Party Like It's 632
Icon islam.svg
Turning towards Mecca

Fatwa envy is the term used for the phenomenon of non-Muslim people complaining that criticism of their (usually authoritarian or theocratic) religious or political beliefs is hypocritical, on the grounds that similar criticism would never be directed at Muslims for fear of violent reprisals[note 1] (or, in a related argument, because of political correctness). This complaint is widely associated with Poe-like Christians, although more secular wingnuts have been known to employ it as well.

Nature of the condition[edit]

The rants of Fatwa-envy-filled posters generally start angry, upset, or frothing at what the target said or did. The screed then turns to how the other religion would not tolerate what was said (almost as if the person ranting wishes they or fellow religious brethren would turn to violence or killing). To complete the rant, the ranter usually prays for or forgives the target, or explains that they will be going to hell if they do not repent for alleged sins.

Fatwa envy is full of lulz because the ranter does not understand that a loving and forgiving religious person would not imply that they'd like to see violence done to those who disagree with them (at least not without openly criticizing themselves for it), and would (at least try their best to) forgive any supposed wrongs before making veiled half-threats on a blog or forum.

Plenty of "New Atheists" have indeed criticized Islam just as strongly as Christianity and Judaism, and have legitimate concern for their lives as a result. Additionally, criticism and "blaspheming" of most mainstream religions can and does result in death threats — see the PZ link below for an example with Catholicism. It could be argued that the Enlightenment alone is all that made Christian Europe into something noticeably more "tolerant" than the Islamic world; within the whole of Christian history, it's astonishingly recent for heresy and blasphemy to not be capital crimes.

Fatwa envy could be compared to Holocaust envy. However, while fatwa envy expresses a desire to use force, Holocaust envy expresses a desire to receive compassion.

If you strip this argument to its core, it is nothing more than a not as bad as fallacy (atheists are ungrateful bastards for criticizing the actions of a particular religion whose followers aren't slaughtering them on a whim) coupled with tu quoque (atheists' critiques are invalidated if they're deemed hypocritical or inconsistent in applying them) as well as a non sequitur (not criticizing a certain group, whether it is because they are righteous or dangerous, has nothing to do with the validity of criticism aimed towards a different group).

Meaning of Fatwa[edit]

In actual real-life Islam, a fatwā is any official religious opinion regarding Islamic Sharia law issued by a Muslim scholar, somewhat equivalent to a Vatican proclamation, but usually with much less "official" authority (as Islam has no central leadership, thus anyone who has studied the Quran and hadith enough can become a "scholar" — Osama bin Laden included).

Following the Salman Rushdie affair, however (in which the author of The Satanic Verses was condemned to death in a fatwā by Iranian leader Ayatollah Khomeini — who had more authority than most, being one of the most revered figures of Twelver Shia Islam), the term has, in many Western minds, become synonymous with an Islamic death sentence, though that is in fact a rare use of them. Now you know (and knowing is half the battle).[note 2]

The fatwa envy jamboree[edit]

Some nice examples of atheists criticizing Islam, despite, according to their critics, not having the stomach to criticize Islam. Warning: exposure to this may induce cognitive dissonance.

Pat Condell[edit]

See the main article on this topic: Pat Condell

Richard Dawkins[edit]

Johann Hari[edit]

Sam Harris[edit]

See the main article on this topic: Sam Harris

Christopher Hitchens[edit]

Bill Maher[edit]

Phil Mason[edit]

See the main article on this topic: Thunderf00t

Paul Zachary Myers[edit]

See the main article on this topic: Paul Zachary Myers

Maryam Namazie[edit]

Taslima Nasrin[edit]

See the main article on this topic: Taslima Nasrin


See also[edit]


  1. In reality, the Islamic term Fatwa covers a wide range of theological pronouncements, and rarely includes capital punishment.
  2. The other half is red and blue lasers.