Facts not Fear

A reader of this blog, Rev Jim Sutter, has offered an interesting comment on one of my posts.

He is more optimistic than I am about the peacefulness of Islam, but in all fairness, one should read the statements of Islamic leaders RE terror and violence. But I wouls say that one should be quite careful in evaluating these statements. First: the use of dishonesty for securing the victory of Islam is sanctioned in Islam (taqiyye, taqiyya--which I have written about on this blog, feel free to query). Also, since Muhammad used violence in a rather robust manner to further his vision of God's power and sovereignty, violence cannot be said to be un-Islamic. That would indeed be heresy.

Here is a portion of one of his comments, with the link:

As to specific denunciations from thousands upon thousands of Muslim leaders worldwide, including fatwas against terrorism, violence, suicide bombing, militant jihad, and perverting the Qur'an and hadiths, you can find a compilation of these at http://facts-not-fear.blogspot.com

Comments

SocietyVs said…
I like the stance Sutter takes but it is idealic if anything. Fact is - even with all the fatwas (4000 or more of them) they are not working altogether - because the 'sharia law' allows for violence and Muslims are left to 'draw some imaginary line concerning the limits of violence'. Which makes me also question why the violent fatwas are enforced at all (ex: Rushdie)if there is so much denunciation of this violence flowing from Islamic viewpoints and countries?

Fact is reporters have covered enough about the Islamic struggle as needs to be shown - violence in Denmark, Britain, the USA, Yemen, Egypt, Iran, Afganhistan, Pakistan, etc and the other viewpoint needs to shout louder and protest these acts in their country (how often is this happening)? Even with the 4000 fatwas problems exist in multitudes - why - leave the door open a crack for violent action - humans will take the whole damn house (no way to self-regulate especially when religion supports it - ie: G-d).

Muslims have a real handful to deal with in this sense - cause even if they want to be 'peaceful and merciful' it is a matter of weighing the scriptures they read and putting importance on a certain viewpoint vs. an opposing one. Most people are stuck in the middle and do not outright denounce this terrorism - since the terrorism is covered with jihad-ism - making aspects of it religious and worthy. How the hell can the masses discern which side to be on in the struggle (when they also learn from Imams and are subject to their learnings in the mosques - and apparently a lot of women are not educated adequately to make a call)? This is also a problem within Christianity (this lack of learning - scripture wise) but luckily we do not hold violence as a part of the faith (we give it no good reasoning to exist) - thus you will find very little Christian terror. And when it happens we all denounce it outright - within our churches and it is not in the papers or media - and this is a well known viewpoint.

I denounce violence altogther - and I learned that from Jesus' teachings - and was made very known in every church I ever attended. Now I expect the Muslim faith to the same within it's realm also - since it is their faith to contend with - not mine. I will contend with the interpretation problems I see within my faith (and there are quite a few to discuss) - and that's where my responsibility truly ends - I am a Christian - I have the right to call out other Christians for acts of ignorance and ask for different interpretation - but I do not have the right to judge the Muslim issues of contention - that is their responsibility - and of they can't handle that - then they need to start saying so.

Nuff said.
Rev. Jim Sutter said…
There is absolutely no doubt that the world has a major problem with terrorism and violence that claims it is based on religion. The problem is not only from Islam, there are also very serious problems with the Christian Identity (aka Armagedonite) movement. The most serious foreign threat is from extremists who claim Islam, the most serious domestic threat (at least in the USA) are from extremists who claim Christianity. If we rule out internecene fighting and the 9/11 attacks, then the casualty numbers are very close!

It is a basic fact of sociology that in any large group that shares the same ideology, there will be some that take an extremist view of the ideology, perverting it to meet their means, to be able to use it as an excuse for their own personal agenda. We are seeing that play out in terrorism from Islam, Christianity, Judaism, Hinduism, Buddhism, Socialism, Marxism, Communism, Nationalism, neo-Nazism, etc., etc.

All forms of terrorism are wrong and must be dealt with, using all resources available to end it in the quickest manner possible. Whether that resource is a bullet, a bomb, imprisonment, cutting off financing, isolation, doesn't matter IMO, as long as it works. Surrender is never an option, being a victim is never an option.

As to Muhammad's being a warlord, this is partially true, (because he was not exclusively a warlord). He was involved in 19 campaigns of his time. But, as with everything, we must place this in context - the same as mainstream Muslims do. In Muhammad's time, the entire Arabian Peninsula was at war, everyone with everyone else; society was a large number of warring tribes. What we now see as horrendous (beheadings, slavery, etc.) was at that time common practice, and it was practiced by everyone, of all faiths. Muhammad's accomplishment was bringing many of the tribes together, instead of killing each other, using both the new religion, and/or warfare, to stop the constant battles between tribes. Basically, he didn't do anything more militant than other leaders were doing at that time, and he added an element of religion to bring peace in some instances. He united the tribes under the new religion, and used it to keep them from fighting each other. Mainstream Muslims properly place this in historic context, and understand that the verses, so often quoted out of context, about the battles, are historic, are antiquated, and are not rightfully used to justify anything today.

For a comparable example, in the Old Testament there are commands and laws approving genocide, slavery, looting and pillaging, conquering other peoples, taking others' lands, requiring the death penalty for a long list of (what we see today as) nominal offenses (teens talking back to their parents, etc.) Mainstream Christians place these in proper context, that they are outdated, antiquated, and cannot be used to justify anything today. However, there exists a large number of Christian extremists who believe these to still be in effect today, and they use these to justify their own agendas of violence. Both Muslims and Christians perverting holy texts in this way are completely wrong in doing so.

Again, all terrorism is wrong. We cannot tolerate, encourage or support it. We must give a stronger voice to those who denounce it. They are already out there, in very significant numbers, but we're not listening. The American media is almost completely ignoring the Islamic leaders that denounce it, while the EU media covers it in depth and very frequently. Why is the American media ignoring these denunciations? I have a theory, but that's for another time.

IMO, to assume that these denunciations are taqiyya is illogical. When religious or political leaders of other-than-Muslim faiths condemn something, do we "assume" that they are lying? (okay, that may be a stretch on politicians) Unless a lie can be proven, it should not be alleged.
SocietyVs said…
"that the world has a major problem with terrorism and violence that claims it is based on religion. The problem is not only from Islam, there are also very serious problems with the Christian Identity (aka Armagedonite)" (Sutter)

Based on the scope of the problem comparing Christian Armegedonites (a belief) and actual jihad-ism (belief which requires action) within Islam is not a truly fair comparison. No Christian church or denomination owns a country - we might like to think they do - but this blown far out of proportion - Conservatives run the country but they do not enact Armagedonism...it may 'look' that way but the simple fact is the wars in Afghan and Iraq are not covered in that symbology (in the media). If you wanna see that symbology watch Jack Van Impe.

Jihad is a taught doctrine within all of the ummah in Muslim societies and is enacted in all the countries - as one see's fit (internal, external). This has taken some weird forms - namely terrorism - and the West does cover these stories with some bias - but an exploding car or planes flying in to buildings speak for themselves on some level - as in not only terror - but pure and complete horror. So the real problem is not in the rhetoric but what people are willing to with that rhetoric they attach to G-d.

"The most serious foreign threat is from extremists who claim Islam, the most serious domestic threat (at least in the USA) are from extremists who claim Christianity." (Sutter)

And which extremists would these be? Army of God (minimalized and pretty much shut down), KKK and skinheads (not even accepted as mainstream dogma and also minimalized), Jim Jones and Waco (single events without a following like Al Queda) and this list can go on. Problem is the Christian extremism you speak of is totally marginalized and within Christian communities is spoken against - in regards to violence and bad interpretation. Is this on the same level within Islam? No. The Sharia laws and gov't work together and actually support some aspects of terror - EX: stoning, beheading, or female circumcision - and some of this is seen as returning to original Islam. None of the above is seen as returning to original Christian faith.

"All forms of terrorism are wrong and must be dealt with" (Sutter)

Agreed but terror-ism by virtue of the word is something that causes fear in the people around it - actual terror. So yeah shut down anything that resembles that.

"Basically, he didn't do anything more militant than other leaders were doing at that time, and he added an element of religion to bring peace in some instances." (Sutter)

That's one viewpoint about Mohammed's successes but I was reading some ex-Muslims stories about the Quran and hadiths and I must say - they paint quite the picture of this 'prophet' of peace. I would say the majority of what they say lends itself to someone maniacal or narcissist as Ali Sina points to from Faith Freedom International. He also mentions a story about a Jewish village in which a woman's husband was killed (and her family) in front of her then he weds her - on the same day. And even if Mohammed is subject to the rules of his day (era) then isn't this proof he was not a 'prophet'? Wouldn't he have over-ruled the aspects of his day and not been so subject to them?

"Both Muslims and Christians perverting holy texts in this way are completely wrong in doing so." (Sutter)

There is a diffrence between 'perversion' and actual interpretation of the texts. Now I can boldly say Christians that practice OT law are missing the point of the gospels and letters of the NT - this is a commonly known thing. However, how can one mis-interpret words from within the Quran which advocate violence (even beat your wife)? The Quran has no dividing line between the law and grace - fact is the they have the law - sharia law and the Quran to only go from (and Hadiths) and it does not play out well unless one wants to turn a blind eye to some of the verses.

I read quite a bot if Ali Sina and has compadres - they make some really good cases about the Suras and Hadiths - and what interpretation is accuarte (from the original language to the English versions).
Duffy said…
How do each of you define terrorism? That seems to be a big source of friction IMNHO.
SocietyVs said…
"How do each of you define terrorism?" (Duffy)

Acts done in the name of an ideology (or religion) that seek the acts of violence as the means to their ends. Also the idea these acts have to contain in them the idea of causing 'terror' or 'horror' in the individuals effected.

Now for me - this is hard to say is a Christian dogma of any sort - it plainly does not exist and when it does exist (ex: Ireland) - it is ouright condemned by the majority of the faith world-wide as anti-God (and not for God) - regardless of culture (Canada, China, Africa, or America are examples). If this isn't so - shouldn't Christianity be producung more Che Guevera's in Latin America...or Mao's in China? Fact is, those ideologies of developing 'war' do not exist and we'd have a hell of time finding them within any Christian culture.

But they have existed in small minorites within this faith in the 20th century - ex: abotion doctor murders. But never did that movememt come from actual mainstream teachings - which we all would back (same with Jonestown and Waco) - but on a census basis - perversions of original teachings - used for 'power' of some sort - or as a change agent. None of these movements ever recieved anything more than condemnation within church denominations for their actions.

That being said, we'll likely see more of these within the faith - but nothing on the scale of 'jihad-isms' (an actual accepted mainstream teaching in Islam) - why? No Christian denomination teaches violence as an answer to a problem - but actually the opposite - the root of many of them in this world.
Abu Daoud said…
Nice point Duffy, what do you think?

I think that one aspect of terrorism is that it is trying to bring about some sort of change by literally terrifying people. You make them feel unsafe, you make the feel like anytime they go to the movies or the market they may die, and that the only way to stop this is to accede to their demands.

That's more descriptive that what you have in mind, I'm sure. Would love to know your thoughts.
Duffy said…
Hi all, sorry for the delay in responding I was busy celebrating our 231st year of independence.

Terrorism is the application of violence on civilians or other non-combatants to achieve a political or ideological aim. It is both a strategy and a tactic. Strategically, a terrorist wants to attack the populace in hopes of the state cracking down so hard on the populace that they engender popular support for their cause. Tactically, it's bombing a nightclub full of civilians to kill them and terrorize everyone else.

Is Islam inherently violent? I don't know. Does it currently have a significant percentage of adherents in favor of political violence and/or terrorism to achieve it's aims? Yes. Unless Islam polices itself I fear things are going to get worse before they get better.

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