Self professed free thinkers tell us no belief system, religious doctrine, scientific doctrine, or philosophy is immune from criticism. Underlying this notion is that everything has inherit flaws and limitations, and that astute, dissecting human minds can decode it seriatum. Everything is a bubble that will eventually pop, burdened by the weight of its own contradictions -- or simply morphed and altered by human intervention and reform (who know better).
Of course, Islam is a favorite subject.
If we want to play their game, and use their principle, how about we criticize the criticism?
1. Criticisms constantly shift the goal posts of perspective. Is the criticism based on original source material or contemporary interpretation? Which material? In which language? From what source? Is it criticism of modern Muslim cultural practices? Political events? Historical details? You get the idea. Criticisms ping pong between these vantage points to better satisfy a rhetorical argument. The weight and relevance of each vantage point can be adjusted accordingly. For the sloppy, all these are one and the same -- and fair game.
2. Do criticisms readily acknowledge the degree of knowledge (or lack thereof) they have? Or is it overstated? Do they readily accept the fact their critique is inherently incomplete, and far from the conclusive word on the subject? Even if they do acknowledge this, and state their criticism is just a "piece of a larger puzzle", what is the end destination of it all? Are they open or honest about that? At the end of the day, what is one supposed to do with all the writing and chatter they've produced?
3. Do criticisms, as a pre-condition, yield legitimacy to authority or not? In this case God and the Prophets? I'm not talking about respect, I'm talking about legitimacy. Whether full (absolute) legitimacy or just partial (relativist) legitimacy? Is something recognized as true solely because an authority stated it, or is this insufficient and other means are necessary (logic, science, reason, etc). If the criticism cannot play by the terms of the subject being criticized, what's the net value?
4. The chicken or the egg. Is the statement "Islam is flawed" a hypothesis or a conclusion? A criticism can either say "Here is XYZ. Therefore, Islam is flawed" VS "Islam is flawed. Here's XYZ". This order may seem trivial, but I think the position of the horse and the buggy can be of subtle importance.
What do you think? I think many of these "criticizers" need to get off their high horses, and realize they speak with more vulnerability than they realize.