Thursday, December 13, 2007

Prejudice against Islam? (Part II)

In a previous post I mentioned the first of three things that make me particularly uncomfortable about certain practices of Islam, some of which are based on misinterpretations of the Qur’an or not viewing the Qur’an in its entirety). As with any Scripture, you can’t analyze or draw conclusions regarding a passage in a vacuum – you have to look at it both in its immediate context, and in relation to the rest of the Scriptures.

Below are two additional aspects of Islamic practice that make me uncomfortable:

(2) Muslims tend to limit freedom. Conversion to any other religion is often punishable by death, for example. It is said, and I tend to believe it, is one of the reasons radical Muslims hate the West is that we allow many more personal freedoms. There are exceptions.

Turkey, on the other hand, is a secular state that firmly believes in the separation of Mosque and State, which is highly unusual in the Islamic world. While it is close to 100% Muslim, it is less oppressive and permits many more freedoms. I’ve been to Turkey and the people that I encountered there were very friendly, seemed to like westerners, and were free to practice (or not practice) their religion as they see fit. The women can dress any they want, and many wear a simple head scarf to hide most of their hair, and dress modestly. There is no religious police forcing them to do or not do anything, but such a situation is rare in a predominantly Muslim country.

Unfortunately Turkey is under pressure from radical Muslims to become more like other Muslim countries (i.e., repressive). Let’s hope that doesn’t happen.

(3) Often Muslim women are mistreated and put in inferior positions in Islamic society. The Taliban treatment of women in Afghanistan is an extreme example. Women can’t drive a car in Saudi Arabia, and Sharia law is brutal when it comes to women’s rights (there aren’t any to speak of, from what I understand).

While I don’t consider myself an expert, I believe I have a pretty good understanding of Islam and its practices. I know the basis in the Qur’an for a lot of what they believe and how their culture is shaped. I now view Islam in a different light, and I call it as I see it. What I don’t like about any religion or the behavior of its followers (including my own – especially my own), I will openly and honestly criticize. It is not to condemn so much as to inform, and to maybe put things into proper perspective (which is one of the goals of the blog).

I encourage you, whatever your religion, to pray for peace among Christians, Jews, and Muslims, and to practice the peaceful and “love thy neighbor” aspects of your religion. It is sad that the three faiths which have common roots are at odds with one another. God/Jehovah/Allah can’t be pleased.

All three faiths believe we are all accountable to God, and we will be judged. Think about that the next time you are tempted to discriminate or put down someone.

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