This post was moved from another thread where it was way off topic.
My studies of Islam are fledgling,but it seems to me this way also. If it is a religion of peace, and peace can only be found with conversion, and all those who do not convert are to be killed, then it makes sense that the real Muslims are those that are zealous.
I am by far not an expert on the Muslim religion. But I would have to say that there must be some good in the religion, since there are those who remain Muslim even when not being persecuted.
I think that we must refrain from assuming that because 2+2=4 that 1+3 cannot.(If that makes any sense! ) I agree I am usually uncomfortable with a religion that would like to see my family annihilated as having some good. But they are still children of God and therefor deserve our charity.
Islam doesn’t exactly mean ‘peace’ but ‘submission’. If you submit, then you will be at peace, even it’s forced upon you.
Many Moslems are made aware of the following Koranic verse (2:256)
**There is no compulsion in religion. **Verily, the Right Path has become distinct from the wrong path. Whoever disbelieves in Taghut and believes in Allah, then he has grasped the most trustworthy handhold that will never break. And Allah is All-Hearer, All-Knower.
This was made when Muhammed was just starting the religion and was in a position of weakness. This verse is commonly held to have been abrogated by more bellicose verses.
“As for those who are slain in the cause of God, He will not allow their works to perish. … He will admit them to the Paradise He has made known to them.” (47:4-6)
“Let those who would exchange the life of this world for the hereafter, fight for the cause of God; whether he dies or triumphs, We shall richly reward him. … The true believers fight for the cause of God, but the infidels fight for the devil. Fight then against the friends of Satan …” (4:74,76)
“The believers who stay at home––apart from those that suffer a grave impediment––are not the equals of those who fight for the cause of God with their goods and their persons. God has given those that fight with their goods and their persons a higher rank than those who stay at home …” (4:95,96)
“Slay the idolaters wherever you find them. … lie in ambush everywhere for them. If they repent and take to prayer and render the alms levy, allow them to go their way …” (9:5)
“Those that make war against God and His apostle and spread disorder in the land shall be put to death or crucified or have their hands and feet cut off on alternate sides, or be banished from the land. They shall be held up to shame in this world and sternly punished in the hereafter: except those that repent before you reduce them …” (5:34,35)
“Make war on them until idolatry shall cease and God’s religion shall reign supreme” (8:39)
“Prophet, rouse the faithful to arms. If there are twenty steadfast men among you, they shall vanquish two hundred; and if there are a hundred, they shall rout a thousand unbelievers, for they are devoid of understanding.” (8:65)
“Fight against such of those to whom the Scriptures were given … and do not embrace the true Faith, until they pay tribute out of hand and are utterly subdued.” (9:29)
There are great social factors in keeping people Moslem.
In Islamic nations it might be the law against those who convert (become Apostates)
There are injunctions in the Koran about having close friendships with non-Moslems.
There are laws against ‘insulting’ Islam - which is to deal with it honestly.
Even forces work from without to keep them Moslems including Christians and others who see all religions as relative truths.
The Koran is triumphant about their acts of terror
We shall cast terror into the hearts of those who disbelieve, because they joined others in worship with Allah, for which He had sent no authority; their abode will be the Fire and how evil is the abode of the Zalimun (polytheists and wrong*doers).
It is in fact a triumph of God’s spirit that the majority of Moslems don’t act the way Islam would have them.
I like to think of Oskar Schindler as an analogy. He was a Nazi party member, and a war profiteer. He used slave labour. However he was a good man. He save many people’s lives. He did so DESPITE Nazi Party ideology.
We can’t however say “One Nazi was a good man, therefore we can’t criticise Nazism”
True, we shouldn’t say that, but that is exactly what many Muslims want us to say about Islam. Even the “good man” in Islam will defend the character of the founder of that faith which is an antagonist to that “good” sensibility.
Yes, it’s very strange and to me points to the humanity of the founder rather than any divine inspiration. The Qur’an is filled with “accept these proofs as truth” type statments but the proofs are not proofs. It’s very circular.
What most would consider “good character traits” to a human should be timeless and not subject to “it was accepted in that time or circumstance.” Some understanding of those ancient practices, like poligamy is right to have an understanding of. David and Soloman had many wives seemingly with the approval of God. Because it is not recorded if any of their wives were of such a young age is signifiicant. Notable things are noted. The age of Aisha was as “eybrow raising” to the Arabs in the 7th century as was his marriage to his adoptive sons wife whom he had divorce each other, so he could wed her. These were against the social norms of the day then as now but are explained away now as was then.
The myth of the founders good character, that he was perpetually honest and charitable to friends and enemies alike fly in the face not only of acccepted history but of the Koran itself. Islamists want Muhammed to be of good character to give him a more equal standing to the characters that he wrongly identifies himself with that came before him, so they create the myth that he was despite the evidence.
A good person does not kill, but Muhammed killed so there must be some good in killing under the right circumstance, and in the case of Islam it is to fight for allah so there is no more disbelief.
A good person does not steal, but Mohammad stole so there must be some good in being a theif, and in the case of Islam it is to support the Umma.
A good person does not desire children or family members for marriage but Muhammed did so there must be some good, if not in the desire but the practice of such idealism. The fact that a revelation came down to make things permissable only to Muhammed (like more than 4 wives) gives them that sensibility of good by the limitation.
But there is also the reverse good that becomes a thing not so good.
A good person should be modest, but Muhammed mandated women should cover themselves; not for their own modesty, but to prevent men from the lust they might have due to their own weakness. How that verse came down is very telling.
That is the conundrum. The inherent good character in each human being is in conflict with the myth of Muhammeds good character. Devout Muslims have an inherent conflict to be good by having that definition of good corrupted.
The last paradox: martyrdom.
To die in the name of Christ envisions a non-violent person killed for their belief.
To die in the name of allah envisions a violent person killing for their belief and dying in the attempt.
Fighting this tidal wave of prejudice is probably a hopeless task, but here goes yet again:
The Qur’an does not say, and Islamic tradition has never held, that all who do not convert are to be killed. The harshest possible interpretation of Islamic belief on this point is that Muslims should conquer the whole world, wipe out polytheistic rliegions, and force monotheistic non-Muslims into subjugation. There is nothing about killing all non-Muslims. As far as I know even al-Qaeda does not have that goal.
Muslims interpret the Qur’an as the Word of God. Interpreting a text as the Word of God will lead you to different conclusions than those reached by outsiders. Jews and Christians do not follow literally everything in our Scriptures, if literally is defined as the meaning an outside scholar would discern. It is hypocritical to demand that “real” Muslims must do what Jews and Christians certainly do not do–allow outsiders to determine for them what their own Scriptures teach. In fact, when it’s put that way, can’t you see how absurd such a demand is from the start?
Finally, it’s illegitimate in principle for outsiders to any religious tradition to speak of one form of that tradition being more “real” than another. That is a theological judgment that can *only *be made by those who believe in the religion in question in the first place. The simplest way of putting this is that since you and I do not believe Islam is true, it is meaningless for us to talk about “true” Islam. It’s a contradiction in terms.
I fail to see how the point you make in #1 should give anyone any degree of comfort. Assume as you state that this is indeed the “harshest” interpretation of the Koran, it should still be grave cause for concern that there are a large group of educated middle-class Muslims that are willing to fight to the death to see that interpretation #1 come true.
As to #2; really? You don’t think there are Jews and Christians that follow the bible literally? Have you been to Israel? Have you been to fire and brimstone Southern church service with people running down the aisles crying and speaking in “tongues?” Those people follow the same book as “moderate” Christians to a different degree. Most of them scare the heck out of moderate Christians. Luckily those type of people are the minority in the U.S. They are the majority in the Muslim world.
Finally, think how ridiculous this all would be if we were discussing differing interpetations of the Illiad. It’s all just literature. Take the stories in the Bible and the Koran for what they are, just stories. You don’t need religion to lead a good life. Try not to harm others and help others when you can. Good day.
First of all, I’m not trying to give comfort. I’m trying to get to the truth.
Assume as you state that this is indeed the “harshest” interpretation of the Koran, it should still be grave cause for concern that there are a large group of educated middle-class Muslims that are willing to fight to the death to see that interpretation #1 come true.
Absolutely. Although even al-Qaeda explicitly bases its jihad on alleged Western aggression. Still, given globalization and the high rates of Islamic immigration, there’s abundant reason for concern even apart from the consequences of our interventions in the Middle East. In fact, as I pointed out on another thread, the fact that much Islamic expansion has taken place through peaceful immigration is actually the most worrying thing. We could beat the Islamic world in a knock-down fight (at least if we were willing to damn our own souls in the process). We have a lot more to fear from the process by which Islamic immigrants build their own subculture and then eventually turn this subculture into the dominant culture by imposing shari’a.
As to #2; really? You don’t think there are Jews and Christians that follow the bible literally? Have you been to Israel? Have you been to fire and brimstone Southern church service with people running down the aisles crying and speaking in “tongues?”
I haven’t been to Israel, but I grew up in the South and frequently attended fundamentalist churches. From your stereotyped and generalized description (you don’t appear to make any distinction between Pentecostals and Baptists) I think I know more about this kind of religion than you do.
First of all, you ignored my definition of “literal”: what an outsider to the tradition would decide was the original historical meaning. No, fundamentalists do not interpret the Bible “literally” in this sense. They do not go hat in hand to the nearest university and ask the professor of Ancient Near Eastern studies what the Old Testament means!
The problem is that the word “literal” is ambiguous. Which is why I would indeed defend the proposition that no one interprets the Bible literally. Some people claim to do so, but their “literalism” is rooted in particular theological traditions whether they admit it or not. I suspect I’ve heard a lot more fundamentalist sermons than you have. I know what I am talking about. Many modern fundamentalists, for instance, are dispensationalists–they are committed to what they call “rightly dividing the Word” which involves a highly complex and counterintuitive system of interpretation. Pentecostals, whom you seem to have in mind, routinely allegorize Scripture so as to make it directly relevant to their personal circumstances.
Those people follow the same book as “moderate” Christians to a different degree. Most of them scare the heck out of moderate Christians. Luckily those type of people are the minority in the U.S. They are the majority in the Muslim world.
I think that the phrase “those type of people” is extremely vague and even meaningless, especially since you don’t seem to know a lot about Christian fundamentalists. It’s certainly true that Muslims as a whole regard the Qur’an as the literal Word of God in a sense that roughly corresponds to fundamentalist Christianity (indeed, it was a conversation with a Muslim that helped me see the errors of fundamentalism and realize that the Incarnation, not the Bible per se, is the foundation of orthodox Christianity).
This nicely illustrates what I’ve been trying to say about the difference between the way outsiders and insiders perceive a religious tradition. You are horrified when someone looks at Christianity the way you look at Islam.
The Golden Rule applies here just as much as in interpersonal relations. It is our sacred duty as Christians to be just as fair to Muslims as we wish Imagine was to us!
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