Terrorism is both a complicated subject and a simple subject. It has its complexities, but there are also really bright red lines of moral differentiation that we must not blur. The recent events in Paris have made this clear.
I have a number of Muslim friends. I admire most of them. I respect all of them. They’ve shown me kindness, and we are like-minded in many ways.
But, at some point, given incident after incident, you do have to wonder what the nature of Islam really is. Is it a religion of peace, as we are so often told? Or is it a religion of violence?
There is also the very real possibility that, as happens often in many religions, those who claim to be adherents don’t really understand what their religion actually teaches. Their desire to justify their religion (probably the one they grew up with) overrides their willingness to look at it objectively. I’ve seen this constantly with Catholics, with evangelicals, with Mormons, with Jews, etc. as well. It is a feature of human nature.
And the cold hard facts are that Muhammad was a violent man. Yes, there were some circumstances surrounding some of his life that may have justified some of his violence (i.e. self-defense). But Islam has almost always been spread by the sword. When you look at Jesus, there is not a single example of violence where human life is put in danger, or injuries meted out. The life of Muhammad provides countless examples. And even though I’m sure he was legitimately defending himself on occasion, why did he begin engaging in conquest of the surrounding lands during his own lifetime? Some psycho claiming to do violence in the name of Jesus cannot cite even one example of Jesus doing the same (quite the opposite). The same is not true about Muhammad.
I would encourage everyone to look up the Encyclopedia of Wars, which is a compendium put together by scholars, listing, as best they can, many of the wars in human history. Contrary to the modern stereotypical myths that religion has caused most wars, this scholarly work conclusively shows this is a lie. (That was not their purpose, but the conclusion followed from the results of their survey.) They found that only 6 percent of wars were religiously motivated. The key fact, however, is that if you took out the wars instigated by the dar al-Islam (“the House of Islam”), that number plummeted even further, to 2 percent. Thus, in this survey, Islam alone was responsible for two-thirds of religiously instigated wars in world history. This fact is even more glaring when you consider that many of these wars took place when Islam was not nearly as widespread as it is today.
I’m still open to considering other positions on these issues. There are thoughtful Muslims out there, and I believe they need to be listened to. However, we must not avoid the salient point: We really need to cut political correctness out of our dialogue. It is a dialogue killer. If you can’t stand your feelings getting hurt or your opinions being contradicted, then don’t engage in serious conversations. The West is losing its ability to stand for anything because it refuses to dialogue honestly.
And it is precisely because all over the world thousands of people continue to die at the hands of those claiming to do so in the name of Islam that we need to have honest conversations right now. Not hot-headed conversations. Not paranoid or bombastic conversations. Honest conversations. Let there be no more delay.
Given recent events, it seemed only appropriate that we consider the words of the great 19th century Frenchman Alexis de Tocqueville on Islam.
“I studied the Quran a great deal. I came away from that study with the conviction there have been few religions in the world as deadly to men as that of Muhammad. So far as I can see, it is the principal cause of the decadence so visible today in the Muslim world and, though less absurd than the polytheism of old, its social and political tendencies are in my opinion to be feared, and I therefore regard it as a form of decadence rather than a form of progress in relation to paganism itself.” (Letter to Arthur de Gobineau, Oct. 22, 1843)
De Tocqueville lived on the brink of a flowering age of democracy, and he knew it. He foresaw many great possibilities, but also many great dangers. Ultimately, however, he prophesied that Islam would be incompatible with such a world. We ought to consider his words in light of the fact that there is not one single bona fide democracy in the entire Islamic world today:
“Muhammad brought down from heaven and put into the Quran not religious doctrines only, but political maxims, criminal and civil laws, and scientific theories. The Gospels, on the other hand, deal only with the general relations between man and God and between man and man. Beyond that, they teach nothing and do not oblige people to believe anything. That alone, among a thousand reasons, is enough to show that Islam will not be able to hold its power long in ages of enlightenment and democracy, while Christianity is destined to reign in such ages, as in all others.” (“Democracy in America,” Book 1, Chapter 5)
Je suis Charlie.
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