Re: "A Call to the Muslims of the World"

From: Greg Burch (
Date: Tue Oct 23 2001 - 05:11:22 MDT

[I'm on the run, so apologies for a less complete response than I'd like to
make ...]

From: "Adrian Tymes" <>
Sent: Monday, October 22, 2001 9:15 PM

> Greg Burch wrote:
> > 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.
> A similar argument can be made about most religions that emphasize
> diety worship and looking to dieties and/or other supernatural entities
> for guidance/blessing/purpose, instead of looking within oneself.
> Christianity is an easy example, as is Scientology.

Yes, but (and it's a very big "but") one has to look at the actual
historical workings of the phenomenon to which you refer. Certainly there
is religiously-inspired violence in the history of Christianity, with its
peak in the period from the Crusades to the wars of the Reformation and
Counter-Reformation, a period of roughly 600 years. The pacification of
Christianity as an influence on human behavior since the Enlightenment seems
to me to be a fact beyond doubt. The violence engendered by various
marginal Christian and non-Christian cults -- from Mormonism (sadly no
longer "marginal" in numbers) with its massacres of non-Mormon settlers to
Scientology with its monomaniacal persecution of its critics to the
anti-abortionist bombers and "White Christian" militants of recent years
with their apocalyptic rhetoric and behavior can't reasonably be said to be
a major influence on the course of affairs in the West.

The point of which is to see that Islam in general and its more extreme
forms in particular are still very much militant forces in large-scale human
affairs, and far more so than any other religion. Frankly, I simply cannot
understand how one could conclude anything else.

From: "Zero Powers" <>
To: <>
Sent: Tuesday, October 23, 2001 1:01 AM
Subject: Re: "A Call to the Muslims of the World"

> >From: Greg Burch <>
> >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
> 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
> 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:
> 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
> the believers to fight against the *persecution of their faith*. Who
> 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
> persecution."
> 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
> for your friends and protectors." But this is not any worse than Old
> Testament admonitions to the Jews to separate themselves from the
> 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
> 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
> sword. To the contrary I have been oft-referred to the sura which plainly
> states "there is no compulsion in religion."

Zero, I think there is a basic concept at the heart of Islam that you aren't
seeing clearly, and one that a historical exegesis of the text of the Q'ran
and the substance of the Sunnah makes quite clear: The call to fight for the
"freedom" of Islam is grounded in the explicit goal of making Islam a state
religion. ALL of the contextualization to which you refer (especially
surrahs 2:191-193) only makes sense if one sees the admonition to "fight
until Islam is a state religion." The actual historical context of how
Mohammed's pronouncements on jihad developed make this quite clear: Mohammed
spoke these words to motivate his followers to fight relentlessly until
Islam was established as the official religion governing the law of the
land, and only then to lay down their arms. The admonitions to tolerance
are firmly surrounded by the institution of jizia (the tax on

One sees the same behavior in Europe toward Jews until the immediate post
Rennaissance period, and milder forms of inter-sect legal discrimination
until much later (for instance, the "disabilities" imposed on Catholics in
the UK until the early 19th Century.) The basic problem we face today is
the extreme militancy of a significant segment of humanity governed by a
statement that the items of doctrine at issue relate to "the use of violence
only to protect the right of Muslims to practice their beliefs in freedom
from persecution" is, I am afraid, made through the lens of the West's very
recent concept of separation of church and state embodied in the 1st
Ammendment and other constitutional regimes elsewhere.

Greg Burch
Vice-President, Extropy Institute

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