Sarah Haider and Dave Rubin: a Conversation on Islam

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I have decided to start doing these summaries of conversations that I listen to. Mainly to my own benefit. I want to actually learn from these conversations. I have spent a lot of my time listening to them, while I have been doing different things. The only problem is that I have not been processing the information I listen to. These will serve as a helpful introduction to these conversations for other readers as well.

I know that I’d personally like to have summaries like this one underneath the youtube videos that I listen to.

So I hope this is helpful to someone. Also it serves to keep a track of what I have learned and what I listen to. All in all it seems like a very beneficial thing for me to do.

Before I get into the particular parts of the interview, I have never listened to Sarah Haider previous to this video and I knew nothing about her. So I did not come into the video with pre-conceived bias against or for what she was saying. I also try to be as impersonal as possible when writing about this, it serves more as a summary than a personal response from me to Sarah Haider. When I do want to comment with my own opinion I state it clearly within that paragraph.


Background of Sarah Haider

Dave Rubin, a political commentator and former stand up comedian sits down with the up and coming Ex-muslim activist, Sarah Haider. They start the conversation with a brief introduction to Haider’s past and why she is so outspoken about Islam.

She says she likes the format of America’s government: the separation of power, Bill of Rights, individual liberty. This was also as she said one of the main reasons she came to the US from Pakistan.

She states that she began to have doubts about her faith at the age of 15 or 16. Mainly because Islam was foul to “women and women’s rights”.

Haider after taking issue with how mistreated she was went to her family to debate over these issues. She says that she was truly lucky that she has a “liberal” father. He was liberal in the sense that she could read whatever she wanted. She couldn’t wear shorts around the house or have boy friends. She says that she calls him liberal because she wasn’t necessarily forced to wear the hijab, however she did wear it by choice at certain times in her life. Rubin and Haider spend some time talking about the definition of liberalism and how we tend to use it within context of a more extreme conservative approach to politics or social life. MY OWN PERSONAL NOTE: this was an interesting part.

She then proceeds to addressing the issue of how western feminism did not speak to her defense. Rubin points out how if she was of the Jewish or Christian religion she would be treated very differently. She would of been celebrated by leaving that dogmatic sect. And the treatment of the religion would be condemned. Some even go so far as calling a “right wing show”. People question her agenda and she came to much personal cost at the expense of talking about what she witnessed as a female islamist with what she described as little to gain in response.


Reza Aslan and Charlie Hebdo

They start talking about Reza Aslan a muslim who speaks out against ex-islamists such as Sarah Haider or other atheists who are prominent on their critique of religion, like Sam Harris. She says that Aslan acts dishonestly and supposedly even calls himself a “scholar”. Which she finds laughable.

She points out how little scholarly pursuit on Islam has been achieved due to people’s fears of being seen as a bigot or racist. People haven’t revealed the knowledge they have had or even looked into it further.



Once again, they point out that the left is to blame for for not being able to do research on some religions because of fear of bigotry. Rubin says that this is where “the left fail us” (his personal opinion). An interesting observation is that this is why some no longer call themselves the left, but lean towards a more centrist political arena. This was something that they believe is important for a country that has free speech in their constitution.

Sarah Haider comments, that she is “sick” of hearing that colonialism is to blame for violence within Islam and that it has nothing to do with the religion. She said that it doesn’t make sense when you look into it. Not to say that it was not abhorrent, also not to say that it wasn’t a contributing factor; she also expressed that any scholar would agree that Islam was justifying violence way before colonialism.

If I can add a personal comment to this section I would just say that I did not like how they did not reference particular scholars. I would prefer them to be a little bit more specific because I know that they have done the research in the past so why not give us some references of why they have these opinions?



Small section about ISIS. There was not much discussion.


Distinguishing between Atheist X Muslims and Progressive Muslims

There’s two brands of people. There are X Muslims, and atheists. And then there are Muslims that are trying to persuade their own religion. It would be intellectually dishonest to work together. She respects them tremendously, but disagrees with them. It’s hard for her to find any beauty or compassion in the text.

She described atheism as Internally coherent and ethically coherent. And hence there is, in her reasoning, a strong case to be made against Islam.


Being a Woman in this Space + True Liberalism and Bill Maher

Feminism was a big part of her leaving the religion — she left the religion because of the treatment of women. She expected a rally of feminists to come to her side. Code Pink stands for women’s rights and anti-war, doesn’t stand against the violence against women in Gaza, for example.

What are liberal principles? As she has looked into it, she says that she believes that she is the real liberal.


Ben Affleck

When talking about the incident on Real Time with Bill Maher with Ben Affleck’s famous outrage against a calm Sam Harris, Haider acknowledges that Ben Affleck thinks that he’s standing up for the minority. But she believes that he is very wrong in his approach and later assumptions about the religion.


What can Secular people do, then?

Be intellectually honest. Say what others can not say. It is important for liberals to stand up for this, because “we are the compassionate”, originally that is.

You see no one on the news apart from Fox news that are talking about this. You need to make sure that “we,” she is speaking about liberals talk about this.

There are others such as Bill Maher, Sam Harris, Joe Rogan, Dave Rubin that talk about these topics. But it is not a popular stance by no means.


Paris Attack

A little bit about this issue. They didn’t give too much commentary on the specifics.


How do we move forward?

This section was related to the Syrian Refugees. The only long-term way of proceeding is that we don’t allow them to build isolated communities. We pull them into the Western culture.

Multi-cultural narratives are harmful.

I repeat this was Haider’s view and is expressed in her tone not mine.

49:58 — Final Positive Thought

The tide is turning. With the internet everything feels smaller. And so we can reach people that are continents apart within seconds.

All this are reasons to celebrate.

I hope you enjoyed this conversation between Sarah Haider and Dave Rubin and I wish to make many more summaries such as this one.

The link to the original video:

Written by

Author of “Up in the Air: Christianity, Atheism & the Global Problems of the 21st Century” on AMAZON | Exploring Ethical Living | IG: jakub.ferencik.official

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