Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Is Islam a Violent Religion? A Reader Responds...

Back on February 12, 2005, I posted this entry on my blog that included the above cartoon. Just the other day, I got a rather long comment from "ryan h" who took me to task on my position. I can tell that ryan put quite a bit of time and effort into his comment, and I wanted to respond back to him, and educate the rest of my reader(s) at the same time. First, here is what ryan h had to say:
Hail.

I wanted to take the time to respond to this, in hopes that I may help to break your tunnel vision.

First and foremost, most all of the things you write I stand by. Namely this entry which I have been spreading to many. You strike me as someone who is down to earth and sees matters for what they are. I'm afraid, however, that this issue you have been lost.

I'm not Muslim, and before 9/11 I knew absolutely nothing about the religion other than the word. Even though I had been dating a Muslim for some time. I'm not a religious person at all, but I see the value in faith and hope, as they help many survive cold and lonely nights. And push when sometimes it feels like there is no longer a reason.

I think you have lost site of the real issues here, and your attention has been misdirected by otherwise arrogant sources. That's not intended to be an insult to anyone.

I'll start with the obvious: violence. My personal problem with the drawings of Muhammad is that they're drawn by ignorant people. Muhammad was a prophet, like any other prophet. His words were simply written from God. The violence comes from the interpretation, and the people, not the religion.

Seeing as how you are a teacher I don't expect to lecture you about the different denominations of the Islamic faith, but I hope to remind you of the psychology behind everything in hopes that you regain control of your point of view.

It's late, and I just got done having this discussion with another buddy of mine so I'll do all of this in dude talk, so forgive me if I don't sound as scholarly as others. :P

Muslims have a bad rep because of the Sunni's. When Muhammad died, Ali and Abu were the two successors. Sunni's believe Abu was the man, Shi'a believe Ali was the man. Abu was a friend of Muhammad, and a militant kind of guy. While Ali was actually Muhammad blood. Most people followed Abu, and his militant interpretations are why we have people drawing cartoons of Muhammad with a bomb on his head, which isn't fair.

Also, you should remember the Taliban, which have ruled with /fear and violence/, aren't any kind of religious group. They're terrorists to both their own people and the world and shouldn't be related to the Muslim faith in any form. I bring up the Taliban because you mentioned Rushdie, which was the whole reason the conversation came up with my buddy. ANYWAYS. He was held captive for 16 *YEARS*. It's old news. And hardly constitutes among the worst crimes of the Taliban. Also remember that, while the Taliban are in rule, all the clerics and political leaders 'benefit' with their lives by promoting it as faith.

If 1.5 billion people exhibited the violence you, and sadly many others, associate with Muslims as a whole.. well.. think about it. 1.5 people killing.. well.. everyone else? There's be a lot more dead bodies. -- Most of the violence I know of is 'in the family'. Sunni vs Shi'a. Sunni's again being the bullies because the militant interpretation that's been taught for FIFTEEN HUNDRED YEARS since the death of Muhammad. And when you know only one ultimate rule since the day of your birth; death to the unfaithful, you tend to, even after the liberation of those rulers, follow suit.

There will always be extremists. And as scary as it is when you introduce violence as a core, it is ultimately left up to the person to decide what is right and wrong. This is the reason (I believe) that 70% of the Muslim population that are Sunni aren't killing people. Because killing is wrong.

Also, when you said "The worst part about all of this is that much of the major media on both sides of the Atlantic are capitulating to the Muslims by criticizing the publishing of the cartoons, and refusing to run them in their own newspapers or show them on television." I had to make a face like this.. =/

Surely you don't believe that's the worse... the fighting. The lives that have been lost for what's actually a common cause. The blind hate that the families of both 'houses' have developed because of the centuries of deaths and all the pain they have caused each other. And.. the worst part? The pride. Ooohhh what damage can be done by the ripple of broken pride. When the very core of your lifestyle is challenged and insulted. These men.. are they not equally capable of love? Do they not love their children? Their mothers? Do they wish heart ache and torment on their friends and family? Over a *thousand* years of broken pride. Surely you must see the impact that has. And sadly, when other people get involved, when an artist decides to volunteer himself to insult that very group of people, he's sucked, like a vacuum into the pool of hate. It is sad, but the artist is as much to blame for poking a stick at the serpent as the serpent is for striking.

And finally, it's unfair to make assessments of the entire Islamic faith based on the actions, no matter how horrific, of a few. Is it fair to call all Catholics molesters? Hardly. Is it fair to call all Americans greedy, stupid, killers? Of course not. Don't loose your focus on the -person- responsible. Don't allow yourself to become that person who stereotypes. America's shit stinks too. 2 bombs.. 220 thousand people dead in only a moment of time.

I hope everything I've said has meant something... really I do.
In a nutshell, I believe that Islam is a violent religion. I have never said that all Muslims are violent, but for the love of Allah, all you have to do is take a look around you (tunnel vision indeed), and you will see that a disproportionate amount of the violence and bloodshed in the world is being perpetrated by Muslims - very often against other Muslims. As the common saying goes: Not all Muslims are terrorists, but most of the world's terrorists are Muslim. Rather than reinvent the wheel, I am going to partially respond to ryan's comment with a response that Chicago Sun-Times columnist Mark Steyn wrote to one of his readers who basically said the same thing, i.e. Mark, how can you paint Islam with such a broad brush? How can you attribute to all because of what a few do, and all the other common arguments. Here is what Mr. Steyn had to say to his reader, and it is the same thing I would retort to ryan h:
Well, if I’m not an expert on Islam and Muslim society, perhaps you can explain a couple of things to me: As you note, I was paraphrasing Dr Wafa Sultan when I referred to “the backwardness and misery and oppression that attend the advance of Islam.” According to the annual Freedom House survey on political rights and civil liberties in the world, of the 46 Muslim majority nations in the world only three are ranked as free: Indonesia, Mali and Senegal. Of the 16 additional nations in which Muslims form between 20 and 50% of the population, only three are ranked as free: Benin, Serbia & Montenegro, and Suriname. Of the eight nations in the world which have the very worst ranking on the Freedom House chart and thus the least freedom, five are Muslim. So, simply as a statistical proposition, the correlation between Islam and lack of freedom is clearly demonstrable. That would seem to take care of the “oppression”.

As for “backwardness”, here is Dr Mahathir Mohammed, the former Prime Minister of Malaysia, one of the least worst states in the Muslim world, speaking just a week ago:

"We produce practically nothing on our own, we can do almost nothing for ourselves, we cannot even manage our wealth."

You think I’m being unfair, take it up with Dr Mahathir. And as for “misery”, ask those who have to share real estate with Muslims – from the Christians in Nigeria and the Sudan to the Buddhists in southern Thailand – whether that’s such a barrel of fun.

I would be very interested in hearing your responses to the above points. Till then I stand by my words.
And I also stand by my words. There are a few specific things ryan said that I just have to be taken to task:
Muhammad was a prophet, like any other prophet. His words were simply written from God. The violence comes from the interpretation, and the people, not the religion.
"The violence comes from the interpretation"? Folks, read a Quran sometime. Take special note of the Suras which talk about smiting the necks of the unbelievers. What is there to interpret?
I bring up the Taliban because you mentioned Rushdie, which was the whole reason the conversation came up with my buddy. ANYWAYS. He was held captive for 16 *YEARS*. It's old news. And hardly constitutes among the worst crimes of the Taliban.
First of all, it wasn't the Taliban that issued the death fatwa against Salman Rushdie; it was our old buddies the Iranians. The fatwa was issued in 1989. The Taliban didn't come to power in Afghanistan until 1996. Second of all, Rushdie wasn't "held captive", but he might as well have been. He became a prisoner in his own home because Muslims from all over the world were looking for him so they could kill him. If you don't think any Muslim would carry out the killing of Rushdie for insulting their faith, just ask Theo Van Gogh... oh wait, he was murdered by a Muslim in Amsterdam for the crime of making a film that highlighted the oppression of women in Muslim society.
Also, when you said "The worst part about all of this is that much of the major media on both sides of the Atlantic are capitulating to the Muslims by criticizing the publishing of the cartoons, and refusing to run them in their own newspapers or show them on television." I had to make a face like this.. =/
Uh, ryan - why do you think much of the world's media didn't print the cartoons? Because they didn't want their throats slit like Theo Van Gogh. Newspaper men in Muslim countries are already being put on trial and threatened with death for printing the cartoons.
It is sad, but the artist is as much to blame for poking a stick at the serpent as the serpent is for striking.
You are kidding me right? Worldwide riots, hundreds of deaths, destruction of property, mayhem, chaos... all over some cartoons? I believe I covered this: where were similar actions done by Christians all over the world when a so-called artist took a crucifix and stuck in a jar of his own urine? Where were the world-wide Christian riots when a so-called artist displayed a painting of the Virgin Mary that was adorned with elephant dung and pornography? Where were the world-wide Jewish riots when millions of them were exterminated in the death camps?

And finally:
America's shit stinks too. 2 bombs.. 220 thousand people dead in only a moment of time.
This is where ryan's argument went off the deep end. He is saying that we are just as bad as the terrorists because we dropped two nuclear bombs on Japan? Never mind that we were in a declared war with Japan. Never mind that it was either end the war this way, or have many more Japanese civilians, along with possibly hundreds of thousands of Allied troops killed if an all-out invasion of Japan had been attempted instead. Do you think if the Japanese had had the atomic bomb, they would have thought twice about using it on us? War is hell ryan, and there is no medal for coming in second.

Thank you for your response ryan, but no matter how you try to sugar coat it, you are dead wrong.

Good Day to You, Sir

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

I know you've mentioned that you are a teacher, but as to what I can't remember. After reading this post I believe that debating should be your calling. Way to hold your own Chanman!

Darren said...

You are correct here.

Super Mom said...

And since I am not a history major you may have to correct me BUT didn't Japan come on over and without any "true justifiable" cause bomb Pearl Harbor on December 7 19 forty something???? I think that it is true that the majority of Muslims are violent- Just ask them!