Fallacies (المغالطات)

Fallacy 2 : The Straw Man

FALLACIES:

THE STRAW MAN

~EXAMPLE~

Straw Man Argument is a fallacy committed when an opponent simply ignores a person’s actual position and substitutes a distorted, exaggerated, superficial or misrepresented version of that position and then refutes it. This sort of ‘reasoning’ has the following pattern:

1. Person A has position X.

2. Person B presents position Y (which is a distorted, exaggerated, superficial or misrepresented version of X).

3. Person B attacks position Y.

4. Therefore X is false/incorrect/flawed.

Example

M: As Muslims, we can’t stay silent. We need to show how these open attacks on the Qur’an, Muslim ideals, values and laws are gross misunderstandings and play a big part in creating and fuelling anger and resentment among Muslims inBritain.

R: No. As a society here – Muslim or non-Muslim – allowing such radicalising and terrorist rhetoric erodes our sense of security and endangers us all. For the peace and stability of all we should avoid this.

Notes:

  • This argument is a purely rhetorical technique. It may persuade people but it carries no real weight for the actual truth of the argument. And truth is what we seek.
  • M’s position to speak up for Islam has been grossly exaggerated to “radicalising and terrorist rhetoric” and then on the basis of this characterisation rejected.
  • Thus a ‘reinvented’ characterisation does nothing to refute the initial claim of defending Islam.
  • In the da`wa, this is one of the most common arguments that go unnoticed.
  • Many times, a stance, position or view is misrepresented and exaggerated and it is this misrepresentation and exaggeration that is then attacked. We should expect this in the da`wa.
  • In fact, we should expect distortion and even ridicule. People will make the haqq appear simplistic and silly and then this version of it will be attacked to show it is batil! Allahu musta`an!

 

s.z.c.

London 2003.

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