Catholic commentary on culture, media, and politics.

Friday, August 26, 2005

Our Muslim presupposition

There is a widely shared complaint out there that moderate Muslims should condemn terrorism done in the name of Islam. The complaint has more or less upgraded itself into a mantra among conservatives.

But since when is moderation a good thing in religion? Compare this to Judaism or Christianity. Didn't God say He'd spit forth the lukewarm from His mouth? Didn't Jesus wish the world was on already fire with His message? It's zeal and commitment that God rewards.

Our complaint about Islam therefore introduces an unresolvable dilemma: we don't want to say Islam itself is a terrorist organization (per radio host Michael Graham) so instead we say that we want "moderate" (i.e. lukewarm or liberal-minded) Muslims to reform Islam, and to condemn terrorist acts done in its name.

But, at least in every other religion, a "moderate" is either a liberal or a lapsed disciple. In other words, someone who no longer acts according to what his faith teaches. I'd like a Muslim to correct me here, but it seems that the more a person immerses hmself in Islam and takes it on its own original terms -- whether Sunni or Shia or any other legimated form of Islam -- the more likely he'll be to endorse violent jihad.

One element that is carefully avoided in the discourse is the question of whether Islam is a false religion. It's the one unaskable question. I suspect I know why. People are afraid of a violent, retributive reaction. Which may help explain why President Bush feels the political need to overcompensate by referring repeatedly to Islam as a "religion of peace."

The presupposition we make is that Islam is one monolithic thing, with a single set of tenets overseen by something like a hierarchy that distinguishes between fake and authentic versions of Islam. None of this is so. Defining Islam singly is like trying to pin down a puddle of mercury. We ought to consider the problem as it is: The entire Muslim world is not governed by any individual imam or sheik, and therefore we can't expect any authoritative rejection of Muslim-inspired terrorism.

That leaves us with the thesis of these two men.


Blogger Julie D. said...

You raise an interesting point that had never occurred to me before ... that of the moderate believer. Of course that makes perfect sense now that you bring it up.

7:57 PM

Anonymous Christene said...

It is interesting but it isn't valid. A muslim isn't considered "modererate" because they don't endorse terrorism.
The Koran teaches:

"Do good to others as Allah has done good to you; and do not seek to sow corruption in the land, for certain, Allah does not love those who sow corruption'. (28:77).

"But, as good and evil cannot go together, repel evil with something better. Therefore if enmity exists between you and somebody else, he shall become a true friend." (41:34).

10:40 PM

Anonymous Christene said...

Islamic political doctrine is extremely peaceful and moderate by the commands of the Koran.

"…Each time they kindle the fire of war, Allah extinguishes it. They rush about the earth corrupting it. Allah does not love corrupters." (Surat al-Ma'ida: 64)

Terrorists are no more devote Muslim then Jim Jones, or better yet David Koresh, is a devote Christian. Extreamism does not define a more true or strong faith.

10:53 PM

Blogger Patrick said...


I'm stunned -- have I ever *not* made perfect sense? lol.

Christene: "Interesting but not valid." Golly. Just like that.

Thanks for illustrating the one-sideness -- or willful ignorance -- about the Islamic roots of modern terrorism. I've blogged about the attitude behind your comment, and will have to again. And thanks as well for the chuckle over your few nice-sounding verses from the Qu'ran, which also includes:

(Qu'ran 8:12) "Remember Thy Lord inspired the angels (with the message): "I am with you: give firmness to the believers, I will instill terror into the hearts of the unbelievers, Smite ye above their necks and smite all their finger tips of them."

(Qur'an 2:216) "Warfare is ordained for you, though it is hateful unto you; but it may happen that you hate a thing which is good for you and it may happen that you love a thing which is bad for you. Allah knoweth, you knew not."

(Qu'ran 5: 33-34) "The only reward of those who make war upon Allah and His messenger and strive after corruption in the land will be that they will be killed or crucified, or have their hands and feet and alternate sides cut off, or will be expelled out of the land. Such will be their degradation in the world, and in the Hereafter theirs will be an awful doom; Save those who repent before ye overpower them. For know that Allah is forgiving, merciful."

(Qu'ran 22: 19-22) "These twain (the believers and the disbelievers) are two opponents who contend concerning their Lord. But as for those who disbelieve, garments of fire will be cut out for them, boiling fluid will be poured down their heads. Whereby that which is in their bellies, and their skins too, will be melted; And for them are hooked rods of iron. Whenever, in their anguish, they would go forth from thence they are driven back therein and (it is said unto them): Taste the doom of burning."

(Qu'ran 76: 4) "Lo! We have prepared for disbelievers chains, yokes and a blazing fire."

This is a tiny sample. There are over 150 more similar verses where they came from.

Now I'm thinking you're just playing games, what with your Jim Jones/David Koresh comparison. Both men were mentally ill cult leaders, egomaniacs, perhaps psychopaths. Every Christian with half a brain condemns their actions and rejects the ideology behind them. They looked to the Bible (when the bothered) and WARPED it.

Members of Hamas, Hezbollah, Islamic Jihad, Al Qaeda -- look to the Qu'ran and READ it.

Wake up.

12:07 AM


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