Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Prejudice against Islam? (Part I)

In some of my recent posts I have mentioned Islam. I have always viewed Islam as one of the three great Abrahamic and monotheistic faiths. However, until a few years ago I was ignorant of all but the very basics of Islam. While I knew it was different from Christianity in many ways, I respected Islam as a monotheistic faith not unlike my own in certain respects.

With the increase in Islamic terrorism and what has come to be called Islamic fascism, I have made it a point to gain more knowledge about that religion through books and articles. As a result, my views have changed somewhat. While I still have respect for those who follow their religion in a peaceful and tolerant way, I now see things that make me uncomfortable about some aspects of Islam. That doesn’t mean I hate Muslims or lump them all together with gross generalizations (as some do with Christians), but that I now view Islam in a different light than I once did.

The three things that make me particularly uncomfortable about certain practices (often based on misinterpretations of the Qur’an) of Islamic religion and culture (they really can’t be separated) are:

(1) Muslims tend to view the West and Christianity as their enemies. This jihad that terrorists are waging has its roots in that belief. Non-Muslims (dhimmis) are really infidels. This doesn’t mean all Muslims view us as enemies, but it does mean that such an attitude appears to be common in Islamic society. This “struggle” is often preached by radical clerics and others in positions of power, and resonates with many ordinary Muslims.

Note that I don’t condemn them for believing their religion is superior, because adherents of any religion, worldview or belief system (including atheists and secularists) believe their positions to be superior to any other. Otherwise, why would they follow it? However, when such an attitude becomes violent, oppressive, intolerant or otherwise aggressive, then we have a problem.

It is interesting to note that the Qur’an does teach respect for Jews and Christians, calling them “People of the Book”. However, there are other Qur’anic passages that condemn them, and these are the passages that drive the radicals. They ignore the rules of engagement commanded in the Qur’an, its peaceful passages, and the People of the Book verses, believing they will go to Paradise for killing infidels.

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