09 April 2007

They're Coming to Get All of Us...

I get so tired of the fear-mongering that goes on about Islam, especially when Christians/Americans say they are just being honest and trying to engage Islam's problems head on. It doesn't fix anything.

For over 1000 years Christianity was used to justify war, violence towards women and children, political manipulation, and lots of other things we accuse Islam of now. But our interpretations changed. Why? Certainly not because Muslims or Jews or Buddhists or Hindus or anyone else told us we were wrong (even though we were busily colonizing them or invading them and they had real reason to be threatened by us). No, we changed because Christians themselves changed. Moderate Christians pushed for change over hundreds of years.

Islam has evolved a great deal in the last 1400 years just as Christianity has. Personally, I'm happier with some of the advances Christianity has made (the political power of Christianity is significantly less than it used to be, violence is generally not as accepted), but we're still not perfect. Islam will continue to make changes, but it will be because of Muslims pushing for change, not because of anything Christians do. Our criticism and discussion of Islam really doesn't make a difference. You can't fix other people's problems.

Instead, it's far wiser to support the vast majority of Muslims who are not interested in following shari'a law. To support political leaders in Muslim countries who are opposed to radical Islam (and most are since they rightly see radical Islam as a threat to their own power- this has to be done carefully though since many of said political leaders aren't exactly reformers themselves). To support educational institutions that don't promote radical Islam and make sure Muslim students have the means to get a liberal education. And to overhaul US foreign policy- really, from a Muslim perspective is it unreasonable to think that the US is rather negative about Islam?

Fear-mongering is as bad as burying your head in the sand. Probably a lot worse. It comes across as hyperbolic and persecuting and either makes you look stupid or menacing.


  1. Your argument has one major flaw: At its core, Islam is not a religion of peace. Mohamed taught that Islam must be spread by the sword and he backed his teachings up with his own warrior example. Why does this matter? Why can't Islam change? Because to Muslims the only example that matters is Mohamed's and any behavior that differs from his is not "true Islam."
    Now, contrast Islam with Christianity which, at its core (i.e. Christ's teachings), is truly a peaceful religion. Christ taught that we should be fishers of men, not killers of men. Thus, despite the fact that many used Christianity to commit numerous atrocities, there was still room under Christ's teachings to become more "moderate." This cannot happen in Islam and still be Islam.

  2. I disagree. Islam is a religion of peace. Islam as the fear-mongers know it is a religion of violence. Those fear-mongers might be any religion, including radical Islam. When Christians characterize Islam as violent and dangerous and in need of stamping out, they are doing the exact same thing radical Islam does when it tells Muslims that infidels need to be stamped out.

    Of course Islam can change. It has changed dramatically since Muhammad in many ways as evidenced by the incredible diversity within Islam. If Islam were the same today as it was in 700 AD, then it should also look the same in Saudi Arabia, Iran, Morocco, Kyrgyzstan, and Indonesia. And it does not.

    There is plenty of room for peace and moderation and change within Islam. But I know I won't change your mind and I promise you won't be changing mine.

  3. I agree with you completely, Amira! When we make the collosal mistake of thinking Islam is the problem, we turn millions of peaceful people who are our natural allies into enemies. That is a totally counterproductive thing to do. I often ask people who think Islam is what makes terrorists how many Islamic people they actually know, how many friends do they have who are Islamic. The answer is always zero.

  4. I've asked the same question. My favorite is when they say they know some Muslims and they're all very nice, but they still know that Islam is bad.

    I always wonder how a bad religion could produce such nice people.