Re: Does Islam bear any blame?
posted at 4/25/2013 1:08 AM EDT
In response to prolate0spheroid's comment:
It is good that you have gone back and read original sources, but it sounds to me like you've read them with a bias toward finding only the violence. What do you know for instance of the role of charity in Islam and how it plays out? Much of what I know about the good parts of Islam comes from observing Muslims I know serving in the community and practicing charity. Charity, after all, is one of the five pillars of Islam, along with belief in God, prayer, fasting, and the Haj.
It is true charity (Zakat) is a Pillar. What some may consider charity is not what I would (I.E. Al Quaeda funding) but overall this is a good thing used for good charitable reasons. I did not say there's nothing good about Islam.
A few quick points:
- There are plenty of violent verses in the Bible too. (Read Deuteronomy for some really archaic rules). If the simple fact that there are violent passages in scripture made a religion violent, Judaism and Christianity would be violent too.
True, now this isn't about this or that religion but I may have to address the fundamental differences between Islam and Christianity since you seem to want to compare. But the pertinent point is that Islamic terrorism is far more prevalent today and the peaceful message is not winning. It is my opinion that the specific points of radicalist motivation must be addressed by the media. Currently they either ignore and deny the issue or simply give us some nonsense that Islam is peace. I would suggest to you that a muslim who practices a peaceful brand of Islam would be happy to explain the darker parts of the doctrine (I.E. the Sword verses) on national T.V. Our media would prefer to not go near the verses because they are "Hot topics".
How many times have you heard "Islam means peace" translated in arabic on the T.V. Anyone with 30 seconds can fact check this. It means "Submission." Not that any direct translation can be used to define the values of a religion, but the misinformation was clearly meant to do just that. Or when 20/20 did their nonsense segment where they claimed that 72 virgins was a mistranslation and it really meant 72 raisins. Yes, they described 72 raisins with big eyes and large breasts as a gift in the afterlife. Muslims have been misinterpreting it for a thousand years (sarcasm).
I'm sorry, but people are not stupid, lets see some coverage with substance. Whitewashing is not fooling anyone, the Quran is available and people have read it, and I think the sword verses should be addressed. That is how we change the message, we put together a better one, and we do it with substance not with baloney.
- Mohammed was a warrior. So were many of the old testament heros. You paint the history of the Muslim conquests completely negatively. But really, conquest is a part of all cultures, and the Islamic expansion isn't anything peculiar or different from what we see whenever a growing empire expands. I'm not saying conquest is good--I'm just saying that I don't think there's anything peculiar about Islam that makes it any worse than say, Rome, or British Imperialism.
Rome, maybe not. British Imperialism, quite different. Regardless will still are discussing history. Lets assume I agree, we still have to face the fact that we have a problem in the present. History is of Islam is of no consequence, it's just context. In the context of Mohommad as a warrior we must ask if Mohommad did not interpret his own beliefs peacefully than why would his followers.
- I don't know what history you read, but again I recommend Ira Lapidus's work. It gives a balanced portrait of how Islamic civilization spread to many areas of the world. As with Christianity, conquest was part of that spread, but the image of Muslims viciously forcing conquered people to convert under the sword is an unbalanced one. While that forced conversion certainly happened at times, you also have to look at the other side of Islam, which was actually fairly tolerant of people of other faiths, with Jews, Christians, and Hindus often elevated to important roles in the Muslim states. The Muslim world is not monolithic. It has a long history and different Muslim empires and states had different policies, practices, and subcultures. You can't look at the history of the West as monolithic--there are centuries of history and scores of different states and subcultures in the West, all of which are very different. The same is true of the Islamic world. If you want to really understand Islam, you need to understand its diversity. You seem to be approaching history with a reductionist viewpoint, as if one aspect of the culture was its entirety.
I will check the book out. I ordered it on Amazon. The Excerpts I've read seem to confirm everything else I've read.
“The question of why people convert to Islam has always generated intense feeling. Earlier generations of European scholars believed that conversions to Islam were made at the point of the sword and that conquered peoples were given the choice of conversion or death. It is now apparent that conversion by force, while not unknown in Muslim countries, was, in fact, rare. Muslim conquerors ordinarily wished to dominate rather than convert, and most conversions to Islam were voluntary."
They converted voluntarily? After being dominated (Opressed), he begrudgingly admits. Perhaps his definition of voluntary is different than mine, or anyone elses. As has been catalogued in history the Non-muslims were Dhimmis who had to pay a tax and could not preach their religion in front of a Muslim or build new worship places among other things. This was common practice, the evidence is in the populations. Islamic countries are almost all completely Muslim. You can't get an entire group of people to agree that water is wet, let alone agree on one religion.
- The current spate of violence among Muslim communities is, in my opinion, an outcome of political oppression and economic breakdown.
I understand your opinion but I have given you specific reasons this isn't true and cited articles.
- You seem to want to attribute the violence to something inherent in their religion, as if Islam or a "large part of it" is in its essence a religion of violence. I don't think this is true, but all I can do is appeal to you to read even more with an open mind and particularly to get to know Muslims personally. There are many (the vast majority) who are not the violent individuals you see on TV when a terrorist attack occurs or when the press visits a war zone.
- I also suggest you carefully read the history of the Islamic world over the past two centuries or so. It has undergone a tremendous amount of change during that time and has been in turmoil for many reasons. Understanding the political and economic factors that have destabilized the region and created resentments against the West might be helpful to see factors other than religion that lead to a sense that the West is an enemy.
We can go back to the barbary wars, or before that. I would suggest reading "The America I have seen" by Sayyid Qutb ash-Shaheed for the reasons many Muslims hate America. He was an Islamic Scholar who studied in the U.S. and leader of the Muslim brotherhood. His ideas have influenced a great deal of the Middle East today.
- There is, of course, a version of Islamic fundamentalism that has arisen over the past 30 or 40 years that is extremely militant and that offers justification for violence. In some ways, it reminds me of militant socialism, which also was used to justify violence by those who were discontent with their societies or the existing power structures. This type of Islamic extremist ideology is dangerous and can be seductive, especially to disaffected youth. We need to be vigilant against that, but it is a mistake to look at this phenomenon and condemn all of Islam as largely violent. Instead, look at it like other ideologies adopted by those who feel alienated that may or may not be religious ideologies, but that give people a sense of a just cause for which they can fight. This one happens to be Islamic in nature, but if Islam weren't there, some other ideology would be created to fill the void for these types of disaffected individuals. Maybe they'd be Goths like Dylan Klebold.
- The repressive nature of current Middle Eastern states is well known. Again, religion is often used to justify various forms of repression, but that doesn't mean that the religion has some kind of "flaw" in it that makes repression more likely if one is Muslim.
- There are many, many political factors that explain much of what is happening in the Middle East. There also is a yearning for more democracy and freedom. Don't discount the fact that the people in Tahrir square demanding democracy are Muslim too. (One of my relatives through a sibling's marriage, by the way, was there and was shot in the leg by one of Mubarak's forces while demonstrating in favour of democracy.)
Egypt's a mess, now that is a reason they should be mad at us. Problem is denial got is into that in the first place.
I'll just finish by one story. Just this morning the RCMP arrested two alleged Muslim terroists here in Ontario (accused of plotting to bomb a train). How did the police find them? The imam of their mosque tipped off the police that he felt these individuals were becoming radicalized. The Muslim community here is for the most part peaceful and proud to be Canadian. They have the same fears of terrorists as everyone else. And they understand that there are radical Islamic extremists that they need to fight and be vigilant for even in their mosques. They are good citizens, just like you and me--and they resent their religion being twisted for evil purposes. If you, however, were to go to them and preach that their religion (or a large part of it) is inherently violent you would just alienate them. They don't see their religion as violent or practice it that way. In fact, your portrayal of Islam seems to accept the terrorist version of Islam as the real version.
Unfortunately, I'm afraid it is. When I read the Quran I sure have trouble not seeing a violent message. There's very good reason to think that the Muslim Brotherhood, Hamas, Hezbollah, Al Quada, and the Boston bombers understood exactly what they were reading. Seems unlikely we are dealing with mass delusion or two brothers that happenned to go insane at the same time. If Muslims interpret the Quran for human rights, womens rights and peace as many do then I'm just fine with that. They are probably wrong but I don't care as long as they are on board with human rights. I want to give them air time. Many people think the Christians are wrong in their interpretation of slavery in the old testament. They probably are, but as long as they are wrong in the right way I don't care.
I think most Muslims would find this offensive and because of that, they would dismiss you as either ignorant or a bigot. If you can't understand and truly respect all the other things that Islam is besides what the extremists portray it as, you have no hope of influencing Muslims in any positive way.
Maybe they would, but if they are offended because I'm attacking radical Islam simply because they share the same god but not the same values than they are not supporters of human rights. As far as the Imam, we are setting the bar awfully low if simply reporting a terrorist is heroic.