It is, put simply, the most important issue of our time and it is time I wrote about it here. The global Jihad is, more or less, the attempt by a loosely united group of the followers of Islam attempting to spread their ideology through-out the world. No matter what the cost. This is by no means a new conflict considering the nearly 1,300 years of warfare between Islam and anyone who had the misfortune of living within striking distance of the Jihadists of the time. However, in the years since 9/11 governments and other groups the world over had to struggle to deal with the pressing question of what to do about Islam.
This piece, is going to try to be something I wish I had, when I first discovered the Jihad issue; a kind of FAQ to counter the modern propaganda surrounding Islam that each and every one of us has had shoved down our throats, in schools, in history books, in the news, in colleges, and at the feet of politicians who want to make sure we all have a very positive view of Islam. I only hope it is true what they say that God rewards based on effort and not results.
This first part (of two) will deal specifically with Islam’s doctrines, teachings, and history, while the next part will discuss more with contemporary issues related to Islam and Jihad.
Question 1: Isn’t Islam a Religion of Peace?
Just about the first thing everyone learns about Islam is that it is not inherently violent; the numerous deaths caused by Islamic terrorist organizations such as, Boko Haram, Islamic State, Hamas, the Taliban, and Al Qaeda (among many others) is chalked up to a tiny minority of extremists. Arguably, the sheer number of deaths caused every day by Islamic terrorists should make anyone question how peaceful Islam really is.
Either way, there are no fewer than 109 verses in the Quran calling for Muslims to make war against non-believers. If that is not proof that Islam is not a peaceful religion I don’t know what is.
Some people argue that just because Muhammad urged his followers to practice Jihad doesn’t mean he called for violence; since Jihad (they claim) literally translates to “struggle” as in, “My jihad is to pray five times a day.” To quote author on Islam and director of the documentary “Islam: What the West Needs to Know” Gregory M. Davis,
“As in any case of trying to determine Islamic teaching on a particular matter, one must look to the Quran and the Sunnah. From those sources (see above) it is evident that a Muslim is required to struggle against a variety of things: laziness in prayer, neglecting to give zakat (alms), etc. But is it also plain that a Muslim is commanded to struggle in physical combat against the infidel as well. Muhammad’s impressive military career attests to the central role that military action plays in Islam.”
Again, the 25,000 deadly terror attacks perpetrated by Muslims since 9/11, and nearly 1,300 years of warfare with various nations and religions should clearly show that Islam is inherently violent and that ergo, where Islam is more widespread so will be violence between said Muslims and (in most cases) anyone who has the misfortune of living with or near them.
Question 2: But, aren’t Most Muslims Peaceful?
I’ve heard numerous great answers to the question of why more Muslims aren’t terrorists despite Islam’s clear mandate of warfare against non-believers. The one I always use is, “I no more believe every Muslim follows what is in the Quran than I believe that every Christian follows what is in the Bible.” Or as Davis put it more bluntly, “Hypocrites are everywhere.”
They are various reasons for the discrepancy between what Islam says and what individual Muslims do. As with all religions and ideologues, they are people who are very devoted to the cause and those who are just there the ride; their religion is merely a symbol they have on the outside. Also, due to the decline of the Islamic Ottoman Empire in the nineteenth century Islam went through a period of secularization, leading to many Muslims around the world being simply unaware of their religion’s true teaching.
But, the bottom line is that you do not judge what a religion does or does not teach based solely on the actions of some or many of its followers. Many use Stalin and Hitler as examples of “bad Christians” and indeed they were, because they completely disregarded and ignored Christ’s teachings; why don’t critics of Christianity look to the best followers of Christ, people through-out history like St. Francis, Elizabeth Ann Seton, St. Katharine Drexel and countless others? So too, if we apply the same methodology to Islam, than (based on the teachings of Muhammad) the greatest follower of Islam is probably Osama bin Laden and other ruthless Islamic terrorists like him; from this point of view, it is true that the only good Muslim is a bad one, because a good Muslim follows what I doubt many would argue is a bad religion.
As to the idea that just because all Muslims don’t practice violence means that not all Muslims are radicals, overlooks one thing; one need not be violent to be radical, after all the Westboro Baptists have never killed anyone, but no one would hesitate to label them as radicals. Ben Shapiro, once made an amazing video showing how Muslims around the world hold and support incredibly radical positions. Using this methodology, the idea that there is moderate Muslim majority becomes unfounded.
Question 3: Aren’t Other Religions Just as Bad?
First, what another religion does or does not do has absolutely nothing to do with how violent Islam is or isn’t and instead it only serves to deflect attention away from Islam’s darker side. However, as I pointed out earlier how many other religions can you think of that have international terrorist organizations? (Yes there are Christian terrorists, but they are pathetic groups compared to the mass murdering Jihadists around the world)
Furthermore, it is difficult to justify much of the Christian terrorism and violence of the past using the Bible or any other Christian teachings; the same cannot be said for the Jihadists around the world who frequently invoke the Quran to justify their crimes.
Question 4: Don’t Other Religions and Women Receive Better Treatment in Islam than in other Faiths?
In a word, no; many like to argue that Islam is a religion that produces pluralistic societies where woman are accorded equal rights. Nothing could be further from the truth. According to the World Economic Forum’s Global Gender Gap, nineteen of the twenty worse nations for women are Muslim majority nations. This is not at all out of line with the Islamic teaching, to quote the “Myths of Islam” page on the prominent Islam learning site, The Religion of Peace:
“There is no ambiguity in the Quran, the life of Muhammad, or Islamic law as to the inferiority of women to men despite the efforts of modern-day apologists to salvage Western-style feminism from scraps and fragments of verses that have historically held no such progressive interpretation.”
As for how Islam treats other religions, The Open Doors’ World Watch List (an annual compiling of the nation’s with the worst persecution of Christians) reveals that forty of the fifty listed nations are Muslim majority nations, with the top ten consisting of nine Muslim nations. Obviously, near daily accounts of crimes perpetrated against Christians by both Islamic terror groups and average Muslims the world over shows just how “tolerant” Islam really is.
You could say Muhammad was treating women according to the standards of his time and that it is unfair to single out Islam when plenty of people from history were misogynistic or racist because that was the society in, which they lived. This leads us to…
Question 5: Does It Really Matter How Muhammad Acted?
First, you would think that the prophet of the self-proclaimed true religion would be more morally outstanding then the average person of any time. Either way, what people don’t realize about why it matters how Muhammad acted is that the Quran strongly emphasizes that Muhammad is the most perfect example of human conduct. That should be particularly worrisome considering, Muhammad was a brutal cult leader and hate preacher who had people murdered, tortured, and stoned; was a slave owner, who gave his men the permission to rape women in front of their husbands and urged his followers to wage endless wars against anyone he spoke ill against.
One example of how Muhammad’s conduct centuries ago still has repercussions today, is last year when Pakistan’s legislature was discussing a bill enforcing (the generally ignored) ban on child marriage the countries’ Council for Islamic Theology opposed the law saying it was against the teaching of Islam. It was against Islamic teaching because Muhammad married his favorite wife Aisha when she was six (and he was fifty-four).
There are many more falsehoods and misconceptions about Islam I could cover here, but won’t for the time being, but be sure that I will cover this vital topic in future posts here. In the meantime, I hope that some of you, readers, will go beyond what politicians and the mass media tell you about Islam and use the sources I’ve linked to here and learn more about what Islam actually teaches. In the war against the Jihadists I won’t say knowledge is the greatest weapon we have for turning the tide, but it may be the greatest weapon for at least starting a genuine attempt to roll back the terror and human rights abuses of the world’s most misunderstood religion.