Skip to comments.Moderate Islam
Posted on 09/17/2001 11:15:06 AM PDT by Francohio
In re: Moderate Muslims, Moderate Islam:
Here is my personal experience. I am fortunate to have lived and worked in an Arab country. I developed a great respect for my hosts and wanted to learn Arabic. My teacher was an Egyptian engineer, who, I soon learned was also an advisor and teacher of English to many local professionals, with a reputation for wisdom and devotion to Islam.
One cannot learn Arabic without learning a great deal about Islam. When one studies Arabic in an Islamic country, the question of religion comes up frequently. This did not bother me in the least. For example, I imagine someone learning Latin in 9th Century Sweden would probably have learned a lot about Christianity and have been urged to convert. In the same way, I was asked to convert as I studied Arabic, was introduced to other westerners who had converted, and was even offered a sizable monetary bonus as an incentive! Although I was frankly flattered by the attention, I never had any intention of converting and made that abundantly clear to my teacher, whose kind attitude toward me did not change.
For a westerner to be interested in Islam is not strange. Islam is an Old Testament religion, which is well known. However, it also reveres the New, which may not be so well known. In addition to Abraham, Muslims also revere Christ as a Prophet. Some, especially in Egypt and Syria,which both have long Christian traditions, revere Mary as His Virgin Mother. Mohammed was first recognized as The Prophet by a Syrian Christian monk. Like Christ, Mohammed lived in his youth as an exile in Egypt (which had a powerful Christian Community at the time) and Ethiopia. (it is said he fathered children with a Christian woman there, named Mary!) The parallels between Judaism, Christianity, and Islam would surprise many Americans.
The Koran, and the commentaries upon it, are where Islam and the two older faiths part company to go in opposing directions. The Koran, based on the actual words of Mohammed as lived day to day, sets the tone and the attitude of the life of Islam. Many of his teachings are completely in keeping with Judaeo-Christian thought. But Mohammed's teachings about how Islam was to deal with Jews, Christians, and Pagans, are in the main, extremely severe, in many cases urging their death. There is no escaping that, no matter how moderate the Muslim.
Here is what I was told by my teacher, a good, and extremely generous man, "We all pray to the same God. Jews and Christians pray in the wrong way, which dishonors Allah. But Allah the Merciful is willing to accept you as converts. But to be against Islam is to be against Allah. Allah is patient and we realize that many must come to Islam through study. But there is a time when study must bow to surrender to Allah."
"However, if one is given many chances to come to Allah, but persists in obdurately refusing the opportunity, the patience of Allah wears out, and those who harden their hearts against Him must be punished."
Thus, a moderate Muslim is one whose patience with us has not yet worn out!
There is no one great central authority in Islam. Practices among the Sunni, Shia, and among the non-Arab Muslims are quite different, basic beliefs don't vary much amongst them, as great teachers from every group circulate and preach around the world. Among their common beliefs is that those whom they kill in the holy war, the JIHAD, will serve them as slaves forever in Paradise. The concept of universal Jihad is at the very core of Islam. A Bosnian Muslim, sipping an aperitif in a sidewalk cafe in Sarajevo, might not be very devout. At the same time, he might be harboring mujadahinn fighters, or members of the KLA. He must as a Muslim, perhaps even as an indifferent one, support the Jihad.
We Ecumenical American Christians are "live-and-let-live" crowd, who with each passing era, become less concerned with differences and more with our Christian common ground. The doctrinal differences over which our ancestors killed each other in centuries of battle, are now forgotten to the point where even the Pope has acknowledged that the Jews are our spiritual fathers, apologized to the Eastern Orthodox church, admitted that Luther had a valid doctrinal point, and regularly ordains Anglican priests into the Roman church!
Islam is completely separate from any tinge of ecumenicism, or even fellowship with other religions. In all fairness, as in any religion, there is a range of interpretation. But, at its core, Islam is not a tolerant religion, as an American would probably understand the term. To protest otherwise, as all these American Muslims are now doing, is patent nonsense. (There is no American Muslim Committee to end slavery and the slaughter of Christians in the Sudan. There is no criticism of the killing in Allah's name in East Timor, Kosovo and Macedonia, or The Phillipines. No correction of the cult of suicide in Allah's name as a road to personal salvation.)
The collective mind of Islam, which in many ways, seems curiously stuck around the 12th Century, may just be now turning to its version of the Crusades. Or perhaps, unlike us, they simply never forgot.
I am willing to have patience with a moderate Muslim. I have no patience for a moderate Muslim whose patience has worn out.
As to the power of dogma:
I don't hear many Christians offering "the other cheek" to these terrorists, though it is the bedrock of Christ's teachings.
My solution in the present instance, though radical, is very sane (as in M.A.D.=mutually assured destruction; it worked for 50 years). But I don't think it will even be considered, because it is deemed "unthinkable". Let me suggest that the "unthinkable" occurred on 9/11 and the taboo is already breached -- so far, it's been a one-way deal. Consider:
I am sorry to say this, but I find Islam to be friendly, cordial, hospitable -- to MUSLIMS ONLY. To the infidels (US), it is vindictive and barbaric. The terrorist attack we have just witnessed was SPAWNED in Islam. There is no shirking or refuting this. It is not only tolerated, it is encouraged, funded, and cheered (most of it secretly for fear of exposure of Muslims for the scurrilous beasts they are). To them, there is, as you say, no concept of live and let live.
And, far from being anathema to the Koran, the terror we just witnessed could easily be rationalized by such words from the Koran, such as "Kill them wherever you find them; over such men we give you absolute authority"; "strike terror into the hearts of the enemies of Allah..."; "...take neither Jews nor Christians for your friends...whoever seeks their friendship shall become one of their number." I quote. So, don't excuse Islam. It is the milieu in which these bewildered barbarians, who worry because the world has passed their religion by, these anachronistic a$$holes, it is the milieu in which they have hatched terrorism. And, dammit, it works for them, because they are also patient. They will lose war after war, yet call themselves victors for a whole nother century because they downed the infidels' trade center.
It is a good thing I am not president. Since we have no country to fight back against, we are currently frustrated. Not me. I see that our enemy is Islam -- barbaric, intractable Islam, with its atavistic dreams and visions and its fatuous designs on world domination (what a joke!). If I were president (again, luckily, I'm not), my only debate would be between the following two options:
1) announce the need to evacuate Medina (second holiest site for Islam -- Mohammed's burial place [you see, he's still IN his grave, yet he's greater than Jesus? Go figure]) prior to our nuking it; OR
2) DON'T announce it; just nuke it and let the rags fall where they may.
In conjunction with that, since they've given us the excuse, have hated us, do hate us, and always will hate us anyway, have hated Israel, do hate Israel, and always will hate Israel anyway, I would also encourage Israel to take a couple thousand pounds of high explosives up to the #3 holy site -- the Dome of the Rock (aka the in-your-face-Jews mosque) and blow it to smithereens. Again, the tone for this has been set by Islam, as have the terms of the war. Since they hit us in a place calculated to disturb the very core of our belief system, we need to do the same to them -- hit them in a place that would be calculated to strike at a symbol of THEIR core beliefs and values, to produce the kind of distress and angst in their minds as we are suffering, and to give them pause concerning continuing to play this kind of hardball with so formidable a foe as the USA.
Wednesday, our President (whom I dearly love and support) declared war on terrorists, which is a bastardization of the term ("war"), since war is, by definition, a state of hostility between nations. WE SHOULD HAVE DECLARED WAR ON ISLAM, politically incorrect though it would be, because in this case, it is the closest we can come. In fact, everyone on "Talk Back Live" Sunday afternoon declined to admit that Islam was the actual foe. But Farrakhan is right -- it IS a nation of Islam, and they stick together when it comes to Israel and the USA. The street celebrations and their subsequent efforts to minimize and prevent televising them should tell you that.
To any who would say, "Nuke Medina? Wow, that'll make the Muslims mad." I say, "Duh!", the already are mad, and they always will be!". To any who would say, "Wow! That'll make 'em REALLY do terrorism to us!" I say, "Duh!, they already do!" And then I say, "Muslims: better rethink that -- BECAUSE MECCA IS NEXT." In that sense, Mecca, then becomes hostage -- contingent on Islam's good behavior. And the perfect hostage it is, for without Mecca, they have no religion. It is truly a sine qua non that is without parallel in the religious world. Hardball. They threw the first pitch, high and tight. Now, it's our turn. And we'd better not throw some lousy knuckleball.
If Allah feels that dishonored, how come He doesn't come down and straighten the Jews and Christians out Himself?
I saw a muslim cleric on one of the news channels this weekend. He explained that Islam teaches against killing Christians and Jews because they are "of the book". This is, of course, different from your point and from some of my online searches on the Koran which talk only about not killing "believers", which I take to mean Muslims and not Christians and Jews. Why do you think this person has a different interpretation?
Christ taught his people to be willing to turn the other cheek when dealing with private matters. The Christian is not supposed to extract vengeance or to engage in private vigilanteism. The role of punishing evil is to be left to the properly established government. Also, if a Christian were to sugggest that we, the living, should forgive (enable) the perpetrators of this violence, it would rightfully be seen as wrong because who are we to forgive, when we were not the victims? That would be an act of incredible chutzpah.
The Bible teaches in many places that justice must be paid, but that it should be done in a proper way. Please, if you are going to take potshots at Christianity, at least know what you are talking about.
I'm sorry you took it that way.
Man fails constantly in his attempts at understanding and fulfilling God's wishes.
My point was that, like Christians, Moslems fail constantly to understand and follow their religious teachings, as do their leaders and teachers.
So using their dogma to predict their behavior is a limited exercise.
I have no doubt that only the sacrifices of our Muslim allies will change our perceptions of their nature, and that is not an unfair attitude to have.
Where did you find this in the Koran ? I have looked but can't find it.
Thanks in advance.
The only refinement I might offer is that we don't unilaterally nuke Medina. But President Bush should announce--immediately--that any further fundamentalist Islamic attack upon the United States using weapons of mass destruction will result in the IMMEDIATE vaporization of Mecca.
You are absolutely right when you suggest that the obliteration of Mecca would destroy Islam as a religion, in a way those unfamiliar with Islam would find hard to conceive. It is a threat I think even Bin Laden would understand.
Of course, Saudi Arabia may have something to say about this kind of a threat. But I recognize your hyperbole for what it is, a wish but not a serious policy recommendation.
Here's an explanation of this passage that I heard recently. It made sense to me.
Just like today, slapping someone in the face in Jesus' time was an insult. The passage isn't referring to a physical attack. As Christians, we must bear insults. Interestingly, the pre-Vatican II Rite of Confirmation included the Bishop symbolically slapping the face of the person being confirmed.
We cannot assume from this passage that Jesus is referring to pacifism. In other passages he advises soldiers not to abuse their position of authority, but he does not tell them to lay down their arms.
On the other hand, my cursory reading of the Koran at Islaam.com gives me the impression that Islam is a very militant religion.
Does anyone know the difference between Sunni and Shiite Muslims? My understanding is that the Shiites are the more militant group.
Anyway, has anyone heard a Muslim explanation of these militant verses in the Koran?
You have to think these things all the way through. Be careful.
Stay well - Yorktown
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