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DisclaimerI realize there are millions of good, kindhearted Muslims in the world and the United States, who are patriotic, wonderful citizens, and care deeply for their fellow man. I salute them. This article is not an indictment of them. Rather, it is a frank examination of the infrastructure of modern Islam and its effect not only on the world, but on these good Muslims who do not condone the violence of their radical brethern. Tiptoeing around the subject does no one any good. We all must face the truth.
The Qur’an and the Old Testament
Violence in Holy BooksIt is true that one can find peaceful admonitions in the Qur’an, such as the taking of one innocent life is like taking all of Mankind... and the saving of one life is like saving all of Mankind. Qur'an (5:33)
But there are many more of this aggressive kind of saying, I will cast terror into the hearts of those who disbelieve. Therefore strike off their heads and strike off every fingertip of them. Qur’an (8:12)
Yes, the Christian Old Testament contains similar violent passages, but there remains some crucial differences.
Christian versus Muslim ViolenceWhereas Christianity has had its murderous eras, all its sects have somehow arrived at peaceful postures with the world. As a result, this year’s Ramadan 2010 scorecard shows 226 terror attacks by Muslims, resulting in 1028 dead bodies, as opposed to those by all the other religions—1 terror attack, resulting in 1 dead body. There is no comparison.
ReformationMost of the major religions went through violent phases. Catholicism murdered via the Crusades to defeat Islam, conducted the Inquisition to torture and kill non-believers, burned witches, and so on. Then, however, the Catholic Church had its Reformation, after the brave rebellion by Martin Luther, and slowly transformed into its modern peaceful, more tolerant iteration.
The problem for the modern world is that Islam has not had a Reformation. It also lacks a central controlling body that could effect one. The only control on interpretation of the Qur'an is at the local level. Islam’s leaders are free to read the Qur’an as they please. What you are left with, then, are several Islams, some “moderate,” and others extreme. It depends on how they interpret the Qur’an. One mosque will be peace-loving and full of wonderful human beings, and another will be boiling with hatred of the infidels.
Rejoicing at 9/11, and Pastor Terry JonesWhile many representatives of “moderate” Islam flood our airwaves proclaiming Islam as peaceful and goodhearted, their assertions are belied by internal polling of Muslims, and also by the sheer number of protests across the world in the name of violence for Allah.
The Free Egyptians conducted opinion polls of Muslims soon after 9/11.
To measure the reaction of the educated Egyptian-Muslim middle-class to 9/11, the Free Egyptians conducted opinion polls on a sample thereof on 9/11 and during the ensuing days when an atmosphere of euphoria and rejoicing took control of and overwhelmed the Muslim street.91% of these Egyptians said they supported and rejoiced over the attacks of 9/11. See here for the other, similar, results.
I’ll show just one of the hundreds of photos of Muslims cheering 9/11 all over the world. They were happy that innocent people had been slaughtered in the name of Allah.
This mob-like mentality is evidenced recently by Muslims calling for death because Florida Pastor Terry Jones was going to burn the Qur’an.
|Afghans protesting the proposed Qur'an burning|
History of IslamJust as with Israel and Palestine, I cannot do justice to the history of Islam in a post. Instead, refer to here and here for primers.
Let me say this. By necessity, Islam was born of war. This was not Muhammed’s fault, as it was a demand of the times. Everyone was at war, and battling for existence and for their gods.
The problem is that Islam remains the most CONSERVATIVE of religions, stuck in a time warp, still existing in the battles of its founder.
Israel and Palestine, a Related But Separate Issue
My Middle East Experience
Good PeopleI lived in the Middle East for ten years. I personally knew both Israelis and Arabs, who were Jews, Christians, and Muslims. I had friends among all these, attended ceremonies, even a Bedouin wedding on camels, and heard their expressed political views.
|Bedouin Wedding with Camels|
Regarding the individuals I knew, I had a positive feeling about each. In their lives, they held the same aspirations as all of us. They wanted family above all, good friends, fun, a prosperous business life, and peace.
HatredYet, I was also witness to feelings of hatred. I was in Israel during the beginnings of the first Intifada in 1987, where Arabs began by lining the streets to throw stones at passing busses, and which evolved into such things as the murder of sleeping children in Kibbutzim.
The Modern State of IsraelThe Jews have a history on the land presently known as Israel dating from 1400 BCE. For an outline of Jewish history, see here.
In the 1940s Jews faced anti-Semitism, pogroms, and finally the Holocaust in Germany. In response to the existential threat to a whole people, on November 29, 1947 the United Nations divided Palestine into two states: one Jewish and the other Arab. The U.N. thus created the modern state of Israel, carving out a tiny piece of land for the Jews.
Israel’s WarsDespite Jews having lived in the Palestine area for thousands of years, and enjoying kingdoms that came and went in that piece of land, the Arab Palestinians felt that the whole area was theirs, reflecting their centuries old animosity and blood-letting with this other tribe. The Jewish leadership accepted the United Nations’ decision, but the Arabs opposed it and started attacking Jewish settlements from the day of Israel’s conception, initiating the 1948 Arab–Israeli War. Israel smashed the Arab invaders.
One Arab state or another continues to attack Israel until today, to no avail. Israel’s wars include: the 1948 War of Independence, the 1956 Sinai War, the 1967 Six-Day War, the 1967 to 1970 War of Attrition, the 1973 Yom Kippur War, the 1982 Lebanon War, and the 2006 Lebanon War.
War has been a constant companion to Israeli life, and the Israelis have always won. Of course, now they face an existential threat, with the attainment of nuclear weapons by Iran, and the super-arming of Hezbollah.
Palestinian Israeli WarsThe essence is that Palestinians have been fighting Israelis for control over this tiny piece of land for centuries. The Israelis have the upper hand at the moment, but that could change. The Palestinians are a “democracy,” and have chosen Hamas as their leaders. Hamas has decided that Israel has no right to exist, and continues to terrorize Israel’s inhabitants.
Israel responds, to save its existence and the lives of its children, and is near universally condemned for it.
History of PalestineSee an outline of the history of Palestine 1948 to present.
RefugeesAs a result of the failed pan-Arab attempt to annihilate Israel in 1948, 300,000 Palestinians abandoned their homes and fled the territory. They dispersed in a diaspora into Jordan, Gaza, and other Arab territories, longing to return to their land, and this is the nut of the problem that continues until today.
Unfortunately, they are not satisfied with just Return. They also want the complete abrogation of Israel, or it’s annihilation, and they work for these actively, and support terrorism to attain them. And, of course, because the 300,000 have now become 10,000,000 … any such Return would mean the end of Israel as a Jewish state.
The eternal conundrum.
Palestinian ViolenceThe level of hatred has only grown over the years until it has reached the present day expression in continual warfare, attacks on Israeli civilians, and suicide bombings against Israelis. The saying in Israel is that peace will come when the Palestinians learn to love their own children more than they hate Israelis.
Attempts at PeaceThe reasons for continued war in Israel and Palestine are numerous and intractable. Every U.S. president, including now Barrack Obama, tries very hard to solve the problem. Jimmy Carter is due credit for the 1979 peace treaty between Israel and Egypt. For this, he did diserve the Nobel Peace Prize. He also earns homage for his wonderful Habitat for Humanity. To the contrary, he has been nothing but unhelpful to the world on a range of other issues, including his undermining of peace in the Middle East now by his obvious enmity towards Israel.
One can only wish Obama well in the latest quest for peace there.
Israel as an Excuse for Hatred and TerrorismThe unfortunate thing is, present day Islam uses the continuing Israeli conflict as its excuse for hatred and violence, not only against Israelis, but also against the U.S. and the West. The rationale is that as long as the U.S. and the West support the “murderous” Israelis, Islam will be at war with them too. Israel, they openly claim, has no right to exist, and will be driven into the sea.
The West’s excuses for villainizing Israel are that they conduct an Apartheid, and that they murder innocent Palestinians. The truth is that every attempt by Israel to loosen its control over Gaza and other Palestinian territories results in an increase in terrorist attacks. Why? Because the Palestinians don’t want just the freedom to form their own state. They also want the annihilation of Israel.
As far as murdering innocent Palestinians, there is no more careful country than Israel in trying to avoid collateral damage. The Palestinians, like Muslims in other parts of the world, though, have learned the tactic of preying on weak Western sentimentality, by embedding terrorists in the midst of civilians and using them as shields. Israel is not wrong in defending itself as it does. It defends itself this way or it dies.
And second, using Israel as an excuse for hatred and violence is bogus. The facts more convincingly state that Israel is the peacemaker in the region, and its enemies are the opponents of peace there.
The Real GoalsMoreover, the Arabs and Muslims are deluding themselves, and certainly the world. Let’s assume the annihilation of Israel, the goal of many if not most of the Arab/Muslim states. This is certainly a reasonable aspiration now that Iran is going nuclear. If Israel no longer existed, and if the Arabs and Muslims no longer had the excuse of it as their motivation for inflicting terror on the world, would the terror stop?
The answer is No. Why? Because the defeat of Israel is only a minor stepping stone in their overall plan. Israel is the diversion that the Arab states use to take the minds of their subjects off their ineffective, powerless existences. The real and larger goal is the conquering of infidels worldwide, and the establishment of a universal caliphate, ruled by Sharia law, according to the hard-line edicts in the Qur’an.
Modern Arab CivilizationDespite having great oil wealth, the modern Arab states have not advanced their civilizations much in their territories, and never in modern times have approached the level of culture they once had achieved. Instead, they have created kingdoms and dictatorships that survive by fixating hatred on enemies, chief among them Israel and the West, including the United States.
Arab Contributions to the WorldIt is not so much a lack of money, or even schooling—witness the high level of education of the Palestinians—but rather a lack of self-actualization that keeps many Arab countries from fulfilling their promise. Too many contribute little to the world except hatred. The one thing many of the haters have become experts at, is terrorism.
Clash of CulturesThe big problem between the Western cultures and Islam is Christina Aguilera,
Western cultures allow freedom for individuals to the extent that families are weakened, there are no tribes or clans, religion is peripheral, and sexuality runs rampant, to the point of Roman excessiveness. The Arab, Muslim world runs by a strict patriarchy where control and the law is entirely in the hands of its men, and where violations are punished by communal strictures on up to public stonings. The population as a whole is controlled by Islam itself, joining the people together in common rituals and beliefs, and with a common enemy, the infidel. The men, and women, in these cultures love it the way it is; so much so, that they are willing to die for it.
I actually can understand their point of view. It is not so much different than the strict Catholic, Mormon, or Amish yearnings. In all these, the family is sacrosanct, religion is primary, God is above all, and the Word of God is sacred. And, sexuality is kept tightly controlled. All these are in a continual fight with Western civilization, as in the battle against unstoppable Internet porn that, they feel, weakens the family, the marriage bond, the purity of their females, and the cohesion of the tribe (community).
The major difference is that Islam so much wants its vision of family, society, and religion that it is not just willing to die for it, but to kill for it. And, it is not just willing to murder its outright enemies and attackers, but also innocents. After all, anyone who is an infidel, they believe, is not innocent at all. They are guilty of the heinous crime of not believing.
Religion of Peace, Reformation, and Staying On GuardLiberals want to forget all this, and tilt at windmills, saying that most Muslims are moderates and only want peace. One can hope so, but the evidence is contrary. Perhaps by pretending that Islam is peaceful, liberals hope to cajole them into a more noble state. If so, I am all for it.
But at the same time, Islam needs to be confronted and forced into a Reformation. And the world needs to be on guard against them until they do reform.
Reformation would necessarily include creating a central authority that could effect changes. This might require an Islamic Martin Luther, who is brave enough to face death and ostracism, and who could unite a large number of followers. Or, it would demand at least a growing change within the religion from the ground up to reject medieval thinking and practices.
The crucial question is, can Muslims as a whole adjust their religion to a point where they retain their personal and societal aspirations, but abandon imposing them on the world, and give up coercion and violence as a means of attaining them?
What to DoThe Reformation of Islam can only occur inside Islam. However, it might only happen if the West projects a positive vision of its own society and families. Plus, the West must confront Islam with what is not tolerated from any religion. For example, when confronting other religions in the past, we made it clear we won’t permit cannibalism anymore, regardless of which religion promotes it.
I don’t think we can demand of Islam that they abandon their vision of family and control of men over women, and so on. If women attain more independence within Islam, this must be an internal battle or evolution, like what we had. Our changes came from organizations and movements like suffrage and feminism. We can try to convince them we are right, but we can’t force them to listen on these issues.
End the Slaughter of InnocentsWhat the West can demand, however, is an end to the slaughter of innocents. No more planting bombs in nurseries, or nightclubs.
And, by the way, we can strongly suggest and pressure Islam to grow up and move the Park 51 Mosque away from Ground Zero.
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