With ongoing controversy surrounding Islam on a number of fronts, it is good to remind ourselves about a few realities, a few truths. While people may debate the merits or otherwise of burning a Koran, or the wisdom of building a mosque near ground zero, there are some things which we can – or should – be clear on.
The nature of Islam and its history are a few of these matters which we need to get straight. What the religion actually teaches and how it in fact has spread are matters of concern which we need to get right. Much has been written on these topics, including numerous articles found on this site.
One authority on all this is Michael Nazir-Ali who was bishop of Rochester in Britain, a member of the House of Lords, and bishop of Raiwind in Pakistan. He is currently on a speaking tour of Australia, and he had a helpful article in today’s Australian. This is in part what he said:
“It is often thought the main threat of radical Islamism to the West and, indeed, the world, is terrorism. It is also said to be the isolation of Muslim communities, which allows extremists to recruit people to their cause. Such views are not mistaken but they confuse effects with causes. What the world has to recognise is that we are not simply dealing with faith, but with a political, social and economic ideology. Radical Islamism is a worldview. Its nearest parallel, despite many differences, is Marxism.
“Radical Islamists claim their all-encompassing program for society is rooted in fundamental Islamic sources. They reject the interpretations of Koran and sharia law offered by reformist or moderate Muslims. We must, of course, respect the faith of ordinary Muslims, but the ideology has to be met in a different way.”
His entire article is well worth reading, as is the new piece by Armstrong Williams, “The Endless Wars of Islam”. He says, “Islam emerged from what is modern day Saudi Arabia in the 7th century, and never looked back. Muslim armies swept across North Africa and invaded Catholic Spain, destroying or converting the Christian communities along the way. They turned churches into mosques, and made Islam the official religion.
“Muslim armies also took over the Holy Land, destroyed the last non-Islamic Persian empire, and moved into Asia Minor (modern day Turkey). By the 16th century, Islam had destroyed the Christian Byzantine Empire, had taken over Constantinople, and had turned the Hagia Sophia – the most beautiful church in Christendom – into a mosque. A century later, Muslim armies were outside the gates of Vienna.
“While the years have passed and the names of the armies and countries have changed, Islam’s war against the rest of us continues at full speed. There isn’t a day that goes by without a new terrorist attack carried out by a Muslim militant. Women are stoned in Afghanistan because they had the nerve to be raped… Children are beaten to death and strung up in Pakistan, because they were suspected of theft… Non-Muslims living in Muslim countries are in constant fear of kidnapping and murder…
“In Islam the world exists in two Houses. The House of Peace, where Islam is the recognized religion, and the House of War, where Islam is fighting to become the recognized religion, and because Islam teaches that Allah may change his mind at any time, for Muslims, there is no stable and universal moral code. When you eliminate reason as a guide in human thinking, force is the only thing that determines truth. For that reason, in the House of War, anything goes….
“Islam has always grown through conquest, never through peaceful conversion or persuasion. Furthermore, there is nothing in Islam that allows for religious freedom, because Islam rejects the use of reason. If you can’t depend on reason, then what’s the point of having the freedom to use it? After all, it will only mislead you. In Islam, you’re expected to submit to God (as he is presented to you by Islam), no matter what your reason or logic tells you.”
In the light of such truths, John Hawkins offers us a new article in which he suggests that we ask some hard questions about Islam – ten in fact. He hits the nail on the head with these questions:
“1) Why do so few moderate Muslims speak out against Islamic extremism? How can we get more moderate Muslims to speak up and amplify their voices?
2) Of the ‘moderate Muslims’ who have spoken out in favor of moderation or against terrorism, a number of them have later been tied to terrorist groups or have advocated radical policies. This causes a great deal of difficulty for people who want to ally with Muslim groups because the ‘moderate’ they’re talking to today may very well make them look bad by advocating radical policies in a month or two. What’s the best way to deal with that?
3) Because of the concept of Taqiyya, many non-Muslims believe that Muslims have few qualms about lying to non-believers. Is this a legitimate concern? If not, why not?
4) When it comes to immigration, how does the United States tell the difference between radical Islamists and moderate Muslims? If we can’t tell the difference, should that affect our immigration policies?
5) Widely accepted practices in large swathes of the Islamic world – like shariah law, honor killings, and death for apostates – are absolutely, unconditionally incompatible with western civilization. Should we be asking Muslims if they oppose those practices before we allow them to enter our country? Granted, they could lie, but the very fact that we would publicly label those customs as barbaric would send a strong signal.
6) Why does Islam have such ‘bloody borders?’
7) Much of the Islamic world has an extremely backward attitude toward women. Is this something that goes along with Islam or is it a cultural issue in the nations where Islam happens to have taken root?
8) Why is there so much rabid anti-Semitism in the Muslim world? Pointing to Israel doesn’t seem to be much of an answer, given that what Israel does or doesn’t do has no impact whatsoever on the day-to-day lives of 98% of the Muslim world.
9) Islam, as it’s practiced, SEEMS to be an EXTRAORDINARILY intolerant religion. Yet, non-Muslims are constantly being told we have to be tolerant to Islam. Why should non-Muslims be so tolerant of Islam when that tolerance is not being returned?
10) While there are certainly individual Muslims who seem to fit in very well in western society, Europe has had a great deal of difficulty assimilating Muslims. So, it seems natural to ask: Is Islam on a widespread scale compatible with the freedom, openness, and traditions of western civilization?”
I conclude with even more good questions, this time from Pat Buchanan: “If Islam is a religion of peace, why are Muslims massacring Christians in Nigeria and Sudan? Why did those Afghan mobs also yell, ‘Death to Christians’? Why are Christian Copts being attacked in Egypt, and Assyrian and Chaldean Christians in Iraq? Did these Christian communities start a holy war against their vastly more numerous Muslim brethren?
“What do the terrorists and ‘state sponsors of terrorism’ – Mohamed Atta, bin Laden, al-Qaida, the Taliban, Hamas, Hezbollah, Moqtada al-Sadr, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad – have in common, except for Islam? Is not the one thing that differentiates them from our friends in the Middle East, such as President Mubarak of Egypt and King Abdullah of Jordan, that our enemies exhibit a more rigorous Islamic faith?
“What motivates the jihadists who conduct suicide attacks on American soldiers and drive car bombs onto U.S. military posts, if not the Quran’s promise of paradise if they die a martyr’s death? If some Muslims hate us because we are the new Romans, is that hatred not grounded in the Islamic mandate to drive infidels out of the Dar al-Islam, the House of Islam?
“If other Muslims hate us for our corrupt culture, what is the source of that hatred, other than Islam’s puritanical teachings? If others hate us, as neoconservatives argue, for our freedoms, what is the taproot of that hatred? When Obama and Bush hail Islam as a religion of peace, do they know more about Islam than those who are dying for it?…
“How do we win a long war when we cannot name the enemy?”
Very good questions indeed. They certainly deserve some proper answers. And we had better get such answers soon, or we can only expect much more terror and much less tolerance.