>From: Greg Burch <email@example.com>
>Not meaning to ignite passions more, I nevertheless think this is a very
>good statement about the reality of Islam behind the "but it's really a
>religion of peace" talk:
>Every word of it is consistent with my reading on the subject.
Warning: here comes my soapbox...
Hmmm. It seems to be quite *inconsistent* with what I have read. I'm no
Muslim, nor scholar of Islam. However I am fascinated by religious belief
and have done some reading in that area over the years. In light of recent
events, like many people, my interest in Islam has markedly increased. At
first I was looking for something to support my initial assumption that
Islam was a religion of violence, not of peace -- like say Judaism or
Christianity. I have been consistently dissapointed.
There are of course some suras in the Qur-an which could be interpreted as
calling for religious intolerance and violence. But no more so than what
you will find in the Bible, particularly the Old Testament. For instance if
you examine the verses cited by the ISIS, you will see that they are not
quite as clear-cut as they may seem at first blush. For intance: according
to ISIS, the Qur-an exorts Muslims to "kill the disbelievers wherever we
find them." However, if you actually read the sura in context it admonishes
the believers to fight against the *persecution of their faith*. Who could
argue with that? 2:191 does say "slay them whereever ye catch them." But
2:192 goes on to say: "But if they cease, Allah is Oft-Forgiving, Most
Merciful." 2:193 says: "And fight them on until there is no more
This is certainly no worse, if no better, than what you will find in the
Bible. Also, the Qur-an does tell the Muslim "take not Jews and Christians
for your friends and protectors." But this is not any worse than Old
Testament admonitions to the Jews to separate themselves from the Gentiles.
And it is not even as divisive or inflammatory as Jesus' own reference to
Gentiles as "dogs" (Matthew 15:26).
In short, I'd take what ISIS says about the teachings of Islam with a grain
of salt. They refer to themselves as freethinkers with "Islamic roots."
This does not mean that they are necessarily learned in the teachings of
Islam. To the contrary, it implies that they are "cultural" Muslims, like
many in the West who live like atheists but call themselves "Christian."
My readings, apparently unlike yours, lead me to believe that the Qur-an
advocates the use of violence only to protect the right of Muslims to
practice their beliefs in freedom from persecution. I have seen nothing
which suggests that Islam advocates spreading the belief at the edge of the
sword. To the contrary I have been oft-referred to the sura which plainly
states "there is no compulsion in religion."
So, please condemn the terrorists. What they do is without any reasonable
justification. But be careful and study before you condemn their religion.
I am an atheist. I believe that *all* religions are baseless fairy-tales.
But I have not yet found any reason to disparage Islam any more than those
religions with which we in the west are more comfortable.
"I'm a seeker too. But my dreams aren't like yours. I can't help thinking
that somewhere in the universe there has to be something better than man.
Has to be." -- George Taylor _Planet of the Apes_ (1968)
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