by Andrea J. Graham
The terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001 brought many issues crashing in on a sleepy America. One of them is the reality that we are not alone on this planet—and our neighbors don’t all consider our opinions to be normative. Now we are left with questions about who are neighbors are and why they don’t seem to like us. It was a fundamentalist group of Muslims known as al Qaeda, sponsored by the ruling Taliban of Afghanistan, that attacked the World Trade Center, the Pentagon, the United States, Western Civilization, and everyone else who relies on American prosperity for their own economic growth (this is the number one reason that the world is sending in its sympathies and pledge of support). Arabs and Mainstream Muslims, in the United States and Abroad, are now scrambling (along with the rest of those groups who are scrambling to get out of the path of a rudely awakened Angry Giant, which is the second reason the world is scrambling to cooperate) to put as much distance between them and these Fundamentalists as possible, quite understandably.
There is a bit of a logical problem with some of their arguments, I think, but I can hardly blame them. The United States does not have a history of being able to correctly distinguish their enemies from those who superficially resemble them. Lets not forget the Japanese-American Detention Camps here in the United States—while we were off trying to make the Nazis break up theirs. Does sparing their lives make it okay to take away ones liberty and property? Please. It would of course be inhumane if we repeated that History with the Arab-Americans (most of which aren’t even Muslim).
The brunt of Mainstream Islam’s argument is that the fundamentalist (a.k.a extremist) beliefs of the Taliban and associated organizations is so different from their beliefs that they aren’t really Muslim or Islamic. This is best captured by the cries of the political incorrectness of the phrase, “Islamic Terrorists” that keeps popping up in the media. The Muslims say they find this incredibly insulting because they abhor the actions of the Taliban and that their beliefs aren’t really Muslim at all. I would say that yes, the actions of the Taliban are deplorable and violates both human and Christian wisdom, but I’m still not so sure that the argument of Mainstream Islam follows logical thought lines.
A professor in the Religion Department at Ashland University said something along the lines of, “Fundamentalists take the tenants of the faith to the extreme. They take things literally.” Indeed, the heart of fundamentalism is a literal reading of whatever book they hold as scripture. I also have an article by Prof. Omar Altalib (also of Ashland University) which, in explanation of the Terrorists actions on September 11, 2001, “A Muslim Fundamentalist may do such a thing because they have misinterpreted Islam along the following lines: Jihad, Shaheed, Kaffir, and Khilafa.”
I see a logical discrepancy here. These two statements together are saying the literal (ie, plain) reading of the Koran is a misinterpretation. But what interpretation do they have in mind? Fundamentalists do as little interpretation as possible. It is Non-fundamentalists that get bogged down in interpretation, striving to pull together seemingly contradictory passages of scripture to make them consistent with the theological views they bring to the text, views that are generally dictated by a unbelieving and morally devoid society, which, if not western or American, is patterned after Western Society! And we wonder why Usama bin Laden and those like him consider us a threat!
Prof. Altalib’s article says, “Usama bin Laden incorrectly considers the US government an enemy of Islam.” I’m not sure that statement is entirely true (though of course Mainstream Islam will be quick to try to pacify the Angry Giant with such statements.) While it is true that we have not actively shown animosities towards Islam, the American culture is both increasingly captivating and antithetical to the beliefs and lifestyle of the morally conservative observant believers of not only Islam, but also Christianity, Judaism, and some Eastern Religions as well. The difference being in the Judeo-Christian faiths, we are taught to respond on our knees in prayer rather than with the sword of jihad.
But combine America’s moral decay with the power (both economic and militant, hence their choice of targets) and love of freedom we have and we are indeed a huge threat to such groups as the Taliban and al Qaeda. I would say it was not merely our economic and military strongholds these men wished to attack, they feared the potent and dangerous combination I detailed above, but it is much more difficult to find the heart of the ooze of moral decay leaking out of this country and destroy it before it reaches their shores.
However, there are a few interesting differences between the Taliban and mainstream Islam. Mainstream Islam, in America, is busy walking a tightrope between the moral codes taught in the Qu’ran (and their cultural traditions and heritage) and assimilation into the majority American culture. This puts American Muslims under certain restraints. It is not a coincidence that there are no openly Fundamentalist Muslims of the Taliban sort in the United States (except of course for aliens who have illegally entered the country to commit acts of terrorism).
Islam in Muslim-majority countries is not under such restraints. It is also not a coincidence that most Arabs in this country are Christians. The Christian Arabs have a very good reason for fleeing to places like the United States—the Islamic States of their homelands are busy persecuting them. It is all well and fine for Muslims to put out the hand of brotherhood to Christians when Christians are in the majority (indeed, this is in their own best interests), but what about when they are the majority?
I would like to believe that Muslims are truly peace-loving people and I do not doubt that most of the Muslims in this country are. But there is still the fact that virtually every country that is currently an Islamic State (except maybe Jordan) is persecuting Christians. In fact, of the 40 or so countries that are known to persecute Christians, only ten are not Islamic States.
Many will, of course, respond, “Those are, of course, the fundamentalists, the extremists. Mainstream Islam is not like that.” Yes, and it is in Mainstream Islam’s best interest to NOT be like that and to interpret their way around the passages in the Qu’ran that call for a very literal Jihad against Jews and Christians and others who have not bowed the knee to Allah. For instance, in one place (009.029), the Qu’ran states, “Fight those who believe not in Allah nor the Last Day, nor hold that forbidden which hath been forbidden by Allah and His Messenger, nor acknowledge the religion of Truth, (even if they are) of the People of the Book, until they pay the Jizya with willing submission, and feel themselves subdued.” Exactly how else can one read such a straightforward passage, particularly when we realize that the phrase “people of the Book” here must refer to Christians and Jews?
But I know well enough that there are plenty of recourses, for many “Christian” theologians have used diverse interpretive methods to work their way around biblical passages that are politically incorrect and subversive to American culture. And both Mainstream Islam and Mainstream Christianity are striving to please Mother Culture despite clear calls on both parts to stand against Her–Islam with the sword and Christianity with prayer.
But would Islam’s views stay so safe and politically correct if they where in power? I would like to say yes but History indicates otherwise, “Absolute Power Corrupts Absolutely.” Don’t get me wrong, the vast majority of Muslims honestly hold to the peace-loving neighborly version of Islam and refuse to acknowledge any version of Islam that is not politically correct as having any validity whatsoever.
However, that is like claiming that fundamentalist Christians aren’t really Christian because the Government finds their views to be dangerous and otherwise threatening to the status quo when most fundamentalist Christians know the bible better (and more strictly adhere to the teachings of the Lord who’s name we claim) than their Mainstream counterparts. The vast majority of the adherents to any Religion have not closely and impartiality examined what the writings they hold as scripture actually have to say.
Indeed, most people come to the Bible searching for proof of the theology they have already put together as necessary (that is, politically correct) from very unbiblical sources. There is no reason to think that human nature changes when you become a Muslim.
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