I’ve read here and there an ongoing discussion about Islam and Democracy. There are some who would proffer that Islam is incompatible with Democracy and Islam is a religion of hate and violence. These views are definitely in the minority, but Muslims the world over seem to want to perpetuate the stereotype time and time again.
I would admit, if I were you, that there are many, many Muslim people who are not violent, have a healthy respect for all people, and regard their religion as something that can exist separate from government. Are they a majority of the world’s Muslim population? That theory has been pushed time and time again, that there is a “silent majority” out there that needs to stand up and take on the more radical and violent inside of their religion.
Some might compare this with Christianity, that there are some that promote a very conservative brand of the religion, and in some cases are quite violent and intolerant themselves. But I think this is unfair to do, as the vast majority of Christians don’t act this way, and when some do there is a sizable reaction within the Christian community itself.
Not so with the Islamic community. But why is this?
Nonie Darwish is a Muslim who immigrated from Egypt when she was very young. She wrote a book called “Now They Call Me Infidel: Why I renounced Jihad for America, Israel, and the War on Terror.” Needless to say, she gets a lot of flack from the Islamic community because of the book. Recently she was supposed to speak at Brown University, but pressure from the Muslim groups on campus, and finally the bowing over of the Jewish campus group, Hillel, caused her speech to be canceled.
From the NY Post:
Darwish argues that her own community - in the Middle East and in America - is hostile to criticism, even from Muslims. After 9/11, she says, many in Egypt refused to believe that Muslims were responsible. Instead, they blamed "the Zionist conspiracy." From her childhood in the '50s, she's seen seething animosity toward Jews, Israel, America and non-believers generally pervert her culture. "I asked myself, as a Muslim Arab child, was I ever taught peace? The answer is no. We learned just the opposite: honor and pride can only come from jihad and martyrdom." In elementary schools in Gaza, where she lived until age 8, Darwish learned "vengeance and retaliation. Peace," she says, "was considered a sign of defeat and weakness."
Which explains some things. Like why America is considered weak, and invites terrorism when we back down from places like Somalia.
An event in 1996 inflamed her longstanding frustration with her community. Her brother suffered a stroke while in Gaza, and his Egyptian friends and relatives all agreed: To save his life, he needed to go to Hadassah hospital in Jerusalem, not to Cairo. Even though they had spent their lives demeaning Israelis - and boasting of Arab supremacy. Hadassah saved her brother's life; understandably, her appreciation for Jews and Israelis grew. Today Darwish preaches not only the almost embarrassing lengths to which Jews go to seek dialogue and peace, but also their cultural, political, scientific and economic contributions.
But when Muslims want to speak out against this kind of thing, it’s suppressed, sometimes with threats and violence.
This brings up a point about Islam that I’m hesitant to make, but should for the sake of discussion. While there are many peaceful Muslims throughout the world (though, probably mostly here in North America), radicalism and/or the tendency to interpret their religious teachings in a way that promotes hatred, discrimination and violence is much more widespread and problematic in Islam than in any other religion in history. It’s not enough for some Muslims to come out and proclaim that Islam is a religion of peace. Really?
How many Islamic countries in the world allow Christians to live and practice their religion freely? How many of those country’s governments arrest, torture and otherwise freely discriminate against those who are not Muslim? How many countries (and I can think of a few) treat a woman’s or a Christian’s opinion (like in court) as half or a quarter that of a Muslim man? This isn’t simply a minority discriminating in everyday live. This is government sanctioned oppression. How many countries carry the death penalty for a Muslim converting to any other religion?
Which brings me close to my point. My wife and I once knew a Muslim who challenged us to read the Koran, saying that just reading it would somehow convince us to the superiority of the Islamic faith. Now, having not read it yet (although not opposed to doing so someday), I have a difficult time not laughing at that statement, because it seems to me that Islam is a very, very weak religion. This is a religion that, over the centuries has spread and gained converts by force and coercion. From the beginning, the prophet Muhammad declared that the method of choice for spreading the word would be conquest. Even during the enlightened era of the Islamic Empire at the turn of the last Millennium, Islamic converts were gained because Muslims were not taxed, but non-Muslims were.
All that leads to today, where even self criticism is suppressed to the point that there will never be a public argument against Islam that will be responded to with rational, clear headed defense.
If you can’t defend your religion without threats, violence and oppression, what good is your religion? Is your God so weak that he can’t defend himself?
Hat tip on the Post article goes to Judith at Kesher Talk, via Instapundit.