Mehdi Hasan blasts Islamophobes in Oxford University Debate

On the 23rd May 2013, the Oxford Union held a debate entitled ‘The House Believes Islam is a Religion of Peace’ between three speakers arguing for the motion, and three speakers arguing against the motion. The debate at Oxford Union was similar to a debate held at the Cambridge Union in 2010 where MDI’s Abdullah al Andalusi debated the motion ‘This House Believes Islam is a Threat to the West’ (which resulted in a defeat for the motion – and an Islamophobic speaker to hilariously storm out of the debate during Abdullah’s speech). Further debates engaging Islamophobia, by other MDI members can be found here.

The Oxford Union debate ended with a victory for the motion, and a defeat for the Islamophobic side.

Watching the debate, many found Mehdi Hasan’s performance to be striking and compelling. He lambasts the Islam-critical opposition, and brings some common sense refutations of their misguided argument in his inimitable entertaining style. A good example of a powerful style when engaging with Islamophobic critique and making a palpable case for Islam being a religion of peace. However some raised some legitimate concerns regarding the intellectual position Mehdi Hasan adopted during the debate, as being not representing an authentically Islamic position. We’ve included the video of his part of the debate below (videos of the other speakers can be found on the same channel). Enjoy:

65 replies »

    • I agree regarding Tahir Qadri, but he is widely followed (though I dislike and disagree with him) and he is among the many Muslim scholars who have denounced terrorism (to deafening silence from the bigots) so it’s not a bad idea to quote him, as well as many other scholars.

  1. christianity a religion of love and mercy?

    [content edited – too long, please keep posts within reasonable length .ED]

  2. It’s quite rich for Mehdi Hasan to be defending Islam as a religion of peace, when his own faith (Shi’ism) a violent, extremist, hate-preaching so called ‘school of thought’ is in and of itself against the very foundation of the Islam in the first place.

    • Ally Webb, you couldnt be more wrong about Shia Islam. Tell me about a single shia suicide bomber. Iraq has majority of Shias but never once you will see a Shia suicide bomber attacking a sunni mosque or gathering, that too after countless attacks by al quaida on Shias. I can go on but you need to try to educate yourself first

        • Guys the person who put forward the issue of shia and Sunni is the wolf who wants to enjoy the bleed of hammering goats Sunni and shia. All Muslims are equal. We have only one quran. Please realize that. Sectarian violence is a creativity of those who hate Islam.

        • Dear Luis you must go 250 years back when a person make his own islam by the rituals and arrange the Islamic law as per his own conveyance usig Quran and sermons of Beloved Muhammad S.W and fight against the muslims they killed both shia and sunni and the third front is known as Wahabi/Salfi/Najdi have a look to this book.
          The biggest conspiracy of Islam till date is Wahabi Ideology.

        • Can you substantiate ? and thanks for being so concerned about Sunni Muslims ! But ; what I can substantiate is that Sunnis (read Al-Qaeda and Taliban) killed many WHITES and fellow Muslims around the world. And you should be more concerned about it ! and by the way !!!!! Shias never killed any Christians like Sunnis ! so why u worry ?

          • To all these muslim defenders:
            I dont care if your religion is or not of peace. I dont even care about your religion. So the thing is that there are terrorist who i dont know if they happen to be muslims or if they are doing those attacks because of their religion but we obviously need solutions, and i think the ones who should take the responsability of having it is the actual goverment of those countries.

      • Allah told us not to divide into sects (shia) , the prophet muhammad(puh) did not call himself a sunni or shia . The sunnah just refers to following the prophet , same as madhab . Because we are commanded to obey the prophet , that means one loves ALL the companions . Ali(ra abu baqr (ra) umar (ra) . WE respect the family of the prophet muhammad(puh) fatima (ra) aicha (ra) . AS for many shias well they clearly do not follow the madhab of muhammad(puh) . Muhammad did not tell us to take imams as gods . Neither did he tell us to hate aicha (ra) or umar or abu baqr asidiq. Neither did he tell us to worship ali (ra) . You can compare shi ism to christianity in many ways . If you are not part of this then I appologize . Then I ask you why do you call yourself a shia muslim? If you are part of what I described then I advice you to revert back to islam . salam aleikom

      • My dear friend please keep this in your mind that Shia Muslims and Sunni Muslims are two sides of the same coin having little differences in practicing/beliefs but source is same. Both are respectable sects and answerable of their deeds before Allah Almighty on the day of judgment. None of the sect has an authority to make other accountable of what each of them think is right or wrong but to Allah Almighty. Mr. Mehdi Hassan represented a true picture of Islam and we have great respect for him in our hearts. May Allah Almighty protect all humanity from terrorists (representing any religion) and strengthen brotherhood among all sects believing that one day Allah will surely do the justice.

        • agree with much of you say, but would like to add one thing that is of extreme importance.
          in Quran, it is clearly ordered to we muslims not to divide ourselves in sects or groups.So if we identify ourselves on the bases of shia ,sunni or any other sect, then we are disobeying Allah Almighty and promoting the enemies of Islam.
          so I suggest all the Muslims to obey the Holy Quran in true sets and say nothing beyond one category of Muslim.

      • Sheraz, if you follow back the news you will find shias burning themselves before Iran embassy in London just because UN security approved anti-uranium masses against Iran, let us not talk about blowing themselves in sunni cities in iraq. By the way could name just a single sunni mosque in teheran, single sunni imam or single name of abu bakar and omar there! it is not good to claim shias are always angels, while they are supporting hizbulaat and other terrorist groups, including sarin regime, in syria.

    • Haters gonna hate

      You wish it was you on that platform alas you have neither the brain nor the guts to do so.

      Keep typing

    • Shias are as peaceful as other denominations. And much better than Evangelistics and Catholics ! and many more … look it up !

    • Why are you guys even replying to this piece of filth… No matter how much you want to convince this person he will not be convinced.. He has veils in front of his eyes, He will not understand the truth no matter what.

  3. You forgot to mention that Salman Rushdi had to run for his life because of the 300 million muslims after him. Most of the muslims in the Gulf and the Arabian Peninsula were celebrating the 11th of September. See archives of the Arab Media.

    • I am practicing Muslim. And I clearly remember the 9/11, when it happened, watching it live (when it wasn’t blamed on Islam) I remember being upset and saddened. my heart was with the people there.

    • The question that Mehdi puts is absolutely the basis of this discussion Aramis…were these people celebrating because they considered 9/11 a victory if Islam over infidels or because they were against the expansionist regimes coming out of US – we have anti US demonstrations in Bolivia, Venezuela, and most recently on every G-8 summit – were all those making a religious point or a political point – why is it that when such demos happen in Muslim world they are considered religious and every where else they are considered political?

    • Archives you say eh ? I’d love to have you find one and post it here … and if you’re not able to find one, then help us by getting rid of yourself.

  4. Mehdi Hasan is a muslim not shia or sunni!!!!He is a powerful speaker who has truth on his side.There are only a handful of terrorist who bring shame to our religion and I wouldn’t call them muslims!

  5. As a Muslim who is half Shia and half Sunni, I’d immediately disregard the anti-Shia comment above. First of all, I didn’t know he’s shia (and frankly don’t care). Second, the comment is so out of place and obviously extreme that I think it was written with no other purpose than to rub people the wrong way – and perhaps cause divisions amongst Muslims.

    • half suni half shia? how can you be half shia half sunni? Sunnah is the same as madhab (following the prophet muhammad(puh) . In first place you are a muslim . Why dividing into sects? Is islam named after a human being? (christianity, budhism etc) ? Genetics? When we look at actions of those who call themselves sunnis or shias do they always follow the way of the prophet? Many ‘shias’and ‘sunnis” have camels and donkeys . Many amomg them overburden them by putting to many weight on them . Both do not follow the sunnah of muhammad(puh) . Many shias give a very very high status to twelve imams , they do not ake mistakes etc. Where does this twelve imam stuff comes from? what about those who beat themself up with a sword? Do you consider that to be part of islam? What is your opinion about aicha (ra) umar )ra) and aboe baqr asidiq (ra) ? do you love them? salam aleikom .

  6. All I know Mehdi Hassan defended Islam as a peace loving religion to the best of his knowledge. And he has done a remarkable job. He was defending Islam as peace loving religion not shiia or sunni sect. He cleared the minds of millions of muslims around the world about the bigoty of Islam hatters. Hatts of to him and multitudes of dwas.

  7. Why can’t we all just agree that this man gave a great speech for Islam? It was not specific to any one sect. This bickering back and forth amongst ourselves is why we are picked on, victimized etc. We need to be united and be true to ourselves and respectful to each other before we get the same in return from the rest of the world!
    So lets just be thankful that there are intelligent well spoken individuals who can represent Islam without making us look like we don’t even like ourselves.

  8. if Mehdi Hassan belongs to shia’ism then how can he win debate over christianx bcoz shia’ism itself doznt contain a whole abt islam…

  9. Mehdi Hasan was a prime example of one of islam’s pillars for warfare: “taqiya”, or the art of deception.

    Hasan is a superb speaker, charismatic and stage-savvy. He is smart and knowledgeable and a master at deception, to the extent that the public applauded loudly his participation in the debate.

    And yet, all he spoke were not quite lies, but un-truths, as befits a good muslim taqiya promoter.

    Let’s take one of his opening acts in which we all have to be thankful to islam for the laptop computers we use daily. According to his logic, algorithms were invented by muslims, the development of laptop computers requires algorithms, ergo, laptops are the creation of muslims. And the public loved it. Sadly for him, algorithms were not invented by muslims. True, there were some few fine examples of muslim scientists engaged in geometry, algebra, astronomy and arithmetic during the golden years of islam (which yes, they did have, but it stopped somewhere around the 15-th century, never to come back again). But that long-shot argument that all scientific achievement is due to algorithms, well… And if we are to follow the same misguided silogism, here’s this one: Alcohol was invented by muslims, (the word alcohol, just like the word algorithm, comes from arabic etimologies), alcohol is one of the curses of modern society, ergo muslims are a curse to modern society. If you accept one, you have to accept the second one as well.

    But the icing on the cake in Mehdi Hasan’s participation was his tirelessly-elsewhere-repeated argument that since 1.5 billion muslims are peaceful, islam cannot be but a religion of peace. That’s right, use the non-political non-activity of the 99% of muslims to cover and justify the vile, criminal, cowardly and thugish acts of the ones that do take the prophet’s teachings to actual practice. What do Chechen terrorists, Iraqi terrorists, Saudi terrorists, Egyptian terrorists, Afghan terrorists, Fakestinian terrorists, Lybian terrorists have in common? Gee, I wonder… Let’s see… I give up, no clue! Certainly they don’t do it to glorify the Chechen or the Afghan or the Saudi governments. Certainly they don’t do it in the name of their king, or their current despot. They always proclaim “allahu akbar”. Wonder what that means?

    When someone dares to “insult” islan with poorly-drawn cartoon of their prophet, thousands of them take it to the streets to riot and pillage. Yet when someone insults their religion by performing a terrorist act in the name of their prophet, where are the large crowds demonstrating aginst them or disangaging from them? For each muslim preacher promoting tolerance and dialog, there are 100 promoting exactly the opposite in the name of islam.

    Yet these bare-bones facts are unseen by Hasan. All he sees is that since 100,000 muslims peasants in Indonesia or Sri Lanka do not riot, ergo, islam is a religion of peace. He hasn’t understood, for instance, Koran’s chapter 2, verses 191-193: “And slay them wherever ye find them, and drive them out of the places whence they drove you out, for persecution [of Muslims] is worse than slaughter [of non-believers]… but if they desist, then lo! Allah is forgiving and merciful. And fight them until persecution is no more, and religion is for Allah.”

    But the most disturbing thing to watch in that debate in Oxford was not Hasan’s expected deceitful practices, which are expected from him and his likes, but a bunch of unsuspecting, naive dhimmies loudly applauding this master-extraordinaire of treachery.

    • Taqiya – in early days of Islam, in Mecca the Muslims were slaughtered, so they hid their faith, (The art of deception to save one’s life)
      As for algorithms: there is a fair bit of truth in what he said.
      The word alcohol is Arabic, no doubt but not Muslim. Alcohol existed way before Islam.
      As for the icing on the cake, that is a lot of western media you watch. Try reading the news from the other side you will see the real number of people promoting tolerance and people promoting violence. Unfortunately for us media never shows the people preaching tolerance because they are so boring. I will give you another one, for you to ponder upon; recently the Pakistani Taliban said they sent fighters to Syria, now I am not saying that this was after discussions with US in Qatar’s “Taliban Office” (Hilarious) but it did happen after the “Peace Talks”. Now we all know the history of Taliban and Al Qaida, don’t we? And guess what, if they are successful in their war against Assad, which they will be because of the support from powerful “Non Islamic” nations, they will take the streets shouting “Allah Hu Akbar”.
      As for the verses you quoted. Please read 1 verse before it and kindly try to find out without any prejudice, in what circumstances were this verses revealed.
      The only thing I can agree with you on is that Hasan is a charismatic speaker. For once try and study Islam and not the Muslims. Try and study Islam, try and find out if it teaches anything good? Try and find anything that Islam says and it helps the community to be a better place?

    • Invention is like a puzzle. You cannot complete it without the whole pieces. So basically what he meant was we will not have what we have today without a piece of knowledge from Islamic Golden Age.

      And about ‘alcohol’ invented by Muslim. I wonder..rums, beer, wine appeared in history at least from 4,000 BC. Before Prophet Muhammad (Peace Be Upon Him), Before Jesus himself. And just to inform you, an Arab doesn’t have to be a Muslim. Some of them are Christian, some are Jews, and some of them are Atheist. It’s like you blame all religions, faiths and believes for the invention of alcohol. By the way, Islam prohibits it’s followers to become drunk which include the consumption of alcohol clearly stated that alcohol is mother of evil. I thought everyone in the world knew this but I am wrong.

      That so called ‘Terrorist’ in your understanding is the local settlers of that country. They try to defend their family and country to what they see as a threat. To make an example, during Colonial History of US. There are wars with the American Natives, which are the local people living there hundred years before the Europeans settlers comes, wipe them and occupy their land. So, I your opinion, who is the terrorist? American Natives or the Settlers?

      About 100 people promoting against Islam for each 1 muslim preacher promoting tolerance. I ask you my friend to get to know a Muslim in your country. Know them, talk to them, understand them, see what they do, meet his family and friends. If you do that, you will realize the ratio that you have stated is clearly wrong.

      And thank you for reading the Quran and right here I will put the whole message of it and understand it.

      “Fight in the way of Allah those who fight you but do not transgress. Indeed. Allah does not like transgressors. (Al Baqarah, Chapter 2, 190)
      And kill them wherever you overtake them and expel them from wherever they have expelled you, and fitnah is worse than killing. And do not fight them at al-Masjid al- Haram until they fight you there. But if they fight you, then kill them. Such is the recompense of the disbelievers. (Al Baqarah, Chapter 2, 191)
      And if they cease, then indeed, Allah is Forgiving and Merciful. (Al Baqarah, Chapter 2, 192)
      Fight them until there is no [more] fitnah and [until] worship is [acknowledged to be] for Allah. But if they cease, then there is to be no aggression except against the oppressors. (Al Baqarah, Chapter 2, 193)”

      What stated here is clearly about defending yourself and your home. And fight against Fitnah (accusing something that is not true and create havoc / miscommunication in a community and hence leads to hates, fights and wars). And what you said is clearly a Fitnah and the Quran have stated that Fitnah is worse than killing and I can sense Fitnah in your writing sir. Please learn about Islam. Understand the Quran, read the Sirah (life journey of the Prophet Muhammad, Peace Be Upon Him). Than I give it all to your judgement.

    • Seems as if Mr. Silverio Facundo has an issue with Mr. Hasan and not his arguments, calling him “..a prime example of one of Islam’s pillars for warfare: “taqiya”, or the art of deception.” Seems he also has a problem with Hasan’s statement about al-Khwārizmī and his contribution with algebra and algorithms, trying to minimize his work when he (Mr. Facundo) says “Sadly for him, algorithms were not invented by muslims. True, there were some few fine examples of muslim scientists engaged in geometry, algebra, astronomy and arithmetic during the golden years of islam….” Mr Facundo is also misconstruing Hasan’s statement for contributions. Mr Facundo says: ” …that all scientific achievement is due to algorithms, …” Hasan never said “all scientific..etc..” Now, alcohol invented by Muslims according to Mr. Facundo, we can discuss this, but the point is that consumption is NOT the only use for alcohol, it’s also used for example in antifreeze and Islam does not prohibits the use of antifreeze just because its content of alcohol. Islam prohibits its consumption. And the rest of Mr. Facundo here , just proves what Mr. Hasan was rebutting, a cherry-picking, self serving, lopsided presentation of an argument.

  10. The QURAN clearly states : Chapter 4 Verses 29 – 30
    “O you who believe! Eat not up your property among yourselves unjustly except it be a trade amongst you, by mutual consent.

    And do not kill yourselves nor kill one another .

    Surely, Allah is Most Merciful to you.
    And whoever commits that through aggression and injustice, We shall cast him into the Fire, and that is easy for Allah.




      The punishment in Islam is often death. Which is a bit at odds with the killing is forbidden bit. The bible (OT) has the same eh..problems.

      • Dear Brother, ISLAM does NOT ADVOCATE ‘Death Punishments’ for ALL CRIMES… it is only for very very few crimes, such as WILL-FULLY KILLING another, Married Man or Woman who Indulges in Extra Marital Sexual Affair ( such punishments are Implemented according to Islamic Law after a Fair Trial ) ; i hope that this CLARIFIES your MISCONCEPTION about ‘death sentence’ according to Islamic Law ; ISLAMIC LAW is based on RENDERING JUSTICE to the VICTIM giving MORE IMPORTANCE on HUMAN RIGHTS to the PERSON who is AFFECTED, than the person who has COMMITTED the CRIME ! please remember that this LAW is APPLICABLE even if a MUSLIM WILL-FULLY kills a Non-Muslim.

          • It would be so good if we could just all get along, muslim – shia or sunni, catholic or christian, buddhist or hindu – life’s too precious, all only a breath from death- one day may we learn to love and forgive, understand each others differences forgiving the grave mistakes of our ancestors so not to continue with pain. Fear creates divide and ignorance on how another lives, feels – perhaps if we all walked in each others shoes we’d learn to love and understand a different perspective. Let us be light and life to one another.

  11. He is a charismatic character. An eye opener to those nonMuslims who believes Islam is a religion of terrorism. Muslims are peace loving people who believes that all their deeds and thoughts are countable and valued and believes in a life thereafter.

  12. His response was definitely very well articulated & he exudes charisma.

    However there were a number of problems with what he said, including:

    – He divides religion and politics.
    – He implies that political grievances have nothing to do with Islam.
    – He also says that he’s a proud European, i.e. takes identity from locality rather than ideology.
    – The conclusion of his argument is that most Muslims are peaceful people, whilst the motion of the debate is not about Muslims, but about Islam.
    – He plays the very same “extremist vs moderate” political game that Western governments want us to play.
    – He makes the age old argument that there is no “one” Islam, since there are differences in interpretation.
    – He belittles the clash of civilisations and suggests that the “violent minority” are the only ones who accept it and want to further it, suggesting that those who believe in the ideological clash between Islam and the West are those who do not understand Islam.
    – He references Tahir ul Qadri’s “fatwa”. Instant credibility destroyer there.

  13. I’m really proud of Mehdi hassan madhallah he has put the effort to stick up our religion Allah swt bless u and keep fighting for Islam

  14. I’m really proud of Mehdi hassan mashallah he has put the effort to stick up our religion Allah swt bless u and keep fighting for Islam Islam does mean peace so the ppl should take Ds seriously

  15. Brilliant and so concise. Mehdi’s dynamism & awesome debating skills are so inspiring. Mimona. South Africa.

    • Respect to Mehdi for articulating the defence of our religion in such a captivating speech. I enjoyed every word and don’t care for any of the disrepectful comments being posted. Irfan.Manila, Philippines.

  16. How is it we must FIGHT for any religion? If the advantage cannot be made clear with moderate debate the concept is a crock!Most religions have bloody histories but few so unswervingly cruel as islam… read the book! Stoneing, chopping, killing, mutilations ,looting ,theft , opression, sexual repression, mind control,forced “marriage”denial of freedom , peer coercion, vicious sectarian violence, unquestioning loyalty, finally kill any who dare to leave(apostates). No brilliance of debate, no recognization that thousands of “muslims” are simply GOOD PEOPLE, by their works they are known . Let us leave this rubbish on the scrapheap of history , come forward, we are free, life is short, death is final, there are no winged horses, sloe eyed houris or paradise. Grow a brain,be kind.

    • Thank you Laila for the link. I don’t agree with everything Mehdi Hasan says, and my position on Secular ideology is well known, but the reason for my post was more to emphasise the artistry of Mehdi Hasan’s refutation. I find his appeal to ad populum arguments are dubious, but they work well in the West, where such logic is more acceptable in democratic post-modernist societies (unfortunately).

  17. Mehdi Hassan made many false claims like one the truth is algorithm and algebra was not created by one of the few great Muslim mathematicians al-Khwārizmī but just that these words came from him to call this mathematics by this name and it is true that Muslim had a hand to play in the Renaissance by dissolving the byzantine empire which lead to many leave modern turkey to where their Renaissance was happening but Muslim themselves did very little and it is true that Muslims preserved many of the Greek texts but so did the Byzantines and that person made the claim that if Muslims were ruling in the 1940 there would be extra 6 million Jews that is false but Muslims are not any different and Nazis in general didn’t like Christianity or Judaism some liked deism, neo paganism,islam and protestantism if they had to choose any form of Christianity and and mehdi hassan has very liberal view of islam the only thing I can say is that islamophobs should stop

    • Permit me to laugh a little madly Bro John.Never seen a more dubious rehash of refuted points.Wondering if you actually read the comments made above.
      Anyway,i’ll not waste my time refuting all of what you said.Will only answer those which i think deserve a second attention.
      You Said
      ”it is true that Muslim had
      a hand to play in the Renaissance
      by dissolving the byzantine empire
      which lead to many leave modern
      turkey to where their Renaissance was happening but Muslim
      themselves did very little”
      My Response
      “Play a part?”…..”Dissolving the byzantine empire?” Cant help wondering what could be farther from the truth.The destruction of the byzantine empire wasnt what opened Europe to light sir.Rather,it is the final acceptance of the holy spirit to allow research and free flow of the hitherto murdered ‘herectics and infidels’.Will like to suggest that you take a brief introduction in history.Moving back to year 1 in your college seems a good option.
      You Said
      It is true that Muslims preserved many
      of the Greek texts but so did the
      My Response
      Of course.However what made the islamic preservation unique is the mere singular task of developing what others merely preserved.A standout proof will be a simple comparison of the ‘writings/works’ of the byzantines with that of the islamic world.
      I sincerely do hope that you realize the patent absurdity of your logic. If the muslim destruction of the byzantine empire was what Europe need to abandon its barbarism,common sense should explain that it preserved no knowledge.Rather, it……..(will leave you to work out the ‘arithmetic’).
      A simple advice i’d end with (For Sir John and his partners in hate) is the word(s) of H A R Gibbs
      “Islam has a still further service to
      render to the cause of humanity. It
      stands after all nearer to the real East
      than Europe does, and it possesses a
      magnificent tradition of inter-racial
      understanding and cooperation. No other society has such a record of
      success uniting in an equality of status,
      of opportunity, and of endeavours so
      many and so various races of
      mankind . . . Islam has still the power
      to reconcile apparently irreconcilable elements of race and tradition. If ever
      the opposition of the great societies of
      East and West is to be replaced by
      cooperation, the mediation of Islam is
      an indispensable condition. In its
      hands lies very largely the solution of the problem with which Europe is
      faced in its relation with East. If they
      unite, the hope of a peaceful issue is
      immeasurably enhanced. But if
      Europe, by rejecting the cooperation
      of Islam, throws it into the arms of its rivals, the issue can only be disastrous
      for both” (Whither Islam page 379)

  18. Shia – Sunni divide is more of politic and than spirituality. In the entire Quran there is no reference to Shias or Sunnies. Quran speaks of Muslims and Moomins. These divide is created by politicians for their political end.If shias are out of the fold of Islam how come they are permitted to perform Haj, how come they are members of OIC.

  19. Morning people just read a few remarks made in the above comments! Look remember there’s always going to be Wolfs/trouble makers in the back ground, who come in and drop a few comments and then run off like cowards (Louis, Ally Webb etc etc).. You will notice these guys never come back to respond, hence boys & girls don’t bother wasting your energy on these clowns!!!
    not worth it..

    Love & happiness 🙂


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