A Quick Note About Paul Williams
The very first night I met him, he was unkind to me. Cold, abrupt, even disrespectful. And since then, it has only gotten worse. His name is Paul “Bilal” Williams, formerly one of the leading figures in the Muslim Debate Initiative in London. Let me put it simply: the man has never shown the first bit of fairness to me. He is deeply prejudiced, unfair, and biased. If he has ever even attempted to fairly listen to anything I’ve ever said, I am unaware of it. To call him disrespectful is an understatement.
Williams is an apostate. He made a profession of faith and has now denied what he once believed. For a time anyway, he said he had left Islam, but evidently that was just a temporary thing. It had something to do with the rather public exposure of his same-sex attraction. In any case, he now claims to be some kind of Muslim, though he is clearly of the less conservative stripe. I really doubt he could live in many Muslim countries taking his current status.
Now, Williams has posted a video where he takes a portion of the Dividing Line from February 11, 2016, identifies it as an “attack” on him “for being gay,” and then posts a lengthy clip from Shabir Ally expressing a very liberal view. Ironically, even Williams admits in a later comment, “I agree that Shabir has become increasingly liberal in his views and this is a concern to many Muslims.” And surely, Shabir’s comments about the Qur’an’s comments on the topic sound AMAZINGLY like the ways liberals dismiss the Bible’s teaching on homosexuality as well. If we could not recognize the accent his words could be coming from David Gushee.
Now, I will be interested in hearing more from my Muslim friends on this topic. This could be a very educational and useful way of discussing just how the Qur’an is to be interpreted, given its smaller size and its nature/genre.
But I want to point something out that is very important. Paul Williams says he experiences same sex attraction. I am sorry to hear this. I accept that a small percentage—a very small percentage—of humanity experiences exclusive SSA. I do not believe the majority of practicing homosexuals fit into that category. But let’s say Williams makes this claim (similar to Justin Lee, for example). *This has nothing to do with what I said on the Dividing Line.* And he well knows this. I was addressing the simple reality that it is highly inconsistent in historical Islamic theology for a man who openly claims SSA and who, as he admits, is living with another man (evidently he claims it is a non-sexual arrangement), to be viewed as a source of sound theological and apologetic insight and information.
Of course, how this influenced his apostasy is quite relevant, but I mentioned him because 1) he has acted in a consistently unfair, biased, untruthful, mean-spirited, bigoted way toward me; 2) he left Islam amidst some controversy about his homosexuality and long-term relationship with another man; 3) he is now back in some form of Islam and allowing his website to be used to attack Christians in unfair, denigrating and prejudicial ways. I remain confused as to why believing Muslims look to this man or read his materials given the above. So, let’s recognize, the term “attack” is far better applied to Williams than it is to me. And, having listened to everything Shabir said in the video, he never once mentioned *me.* This is not a response to me, had nothing to do with my comments, etc., and hence Williams’ title to the video was misleading at best, and dishonest at worst.
Here is the video: