FALLACY: REDUCTIO AD BIN LADINUM
This is an argument that is a species of ad hominem (‘personal attack fallacies’) as well as irrelevance fallacies and guilt by association fallacies where an opponent seeks to undermine the truth of a claim by showing that someone who is unrepresentative, disassociated from and distanced by the Muslim community also holds that view. The implicit reasoning is that anything that Bin Laden does or believes no one should do and believe otherwise it will lead to acts like 9/11 and 7/77 which is wrong and this is not what Islam teaches. Thus, it is a powerful rhetorical tool in debate and argument.
The form of the argument will be something like this:
[P1] A believes in claim/idea/belief X.
[P2] Claim X is believed/upheld by Osama Bin Laden (despised by many).
[C1] Therefore, X is false.
This is clearly false. Bin Laden believing or not believing in something is not a criterion of truth. Take the following example:
So, you believe that the poor should get welfare? Well, did you know that Hitler and Stalin both believed in the same? Therefore you shouldn’t accept welfare for the poor.
Such a form of reasoning is clearly fallacious. Hitler and Stalin also enjoyed sport matches. This does not mean that sports games should be rejected and are wrong. Worst still, take this example:
Ok, 2 + 2 = 4. But Hitler also believed that, so 2 + 2 = 4 must be false.
- Although this fallacy is merely a pun coined by the author, the employment of this argument has serious implications in Da`wah hence the da`wah carrier must be aware of them.
- Where these arguments draw their power is in how a view can be discredited in the minds of the Muslims by associating it with someone who is despised and condemned by the community. But the mere association of a view with an unrepresentative person of the community does not justify its rejection. This is based on other criteria (e.g. evidential strength, etc).
Abdul: We Muslims really do need our Khilafah back as it’s the only way we’re gona get our land, laws, honour and security back.
Jamil: What? Are you serious! Bro, Bin Laden believes in this unified caliphate idea as well and look what he did in 9/11 and 7/77. Is this the kind of caliphate you want? This is not Islam. Therefore this caliphate idea is not correct.
- The doctrine of the Caliphate cannot be denied simply because a Muslim with a very mistaken understanding of Islamic rules of engagement also happens to believe it. Based on this logic, a person would also have to disbelieve in Allah, the Qur’an, Hadith and Islamic Law just because Bin Laden also believes in them!
- There are many of these types of arguments used by Muslims and non-Muslims in order to discredit the political dimension of Islam and if allowed it opens a doorway to undermining any belief of Islam. Hence, the da`wah carrier must be aware of their manipulation in public spaces, platforms and forums.
- The noble khilafah is equated to fascist state forms, backwardness and medieval Abbasid formulations by western academics, politicians and even some Muslims for acts committed by Muslims whom all would consider mistaken and erring. But this is not a reason to reject the Caliphate as false. One does not follow from the other.
And Allah knows best.