Philosophy, Politics, Religion

Is it Wrong to Blame Islam?

Jihadi terrorists claim to act on the authority of Islam. Could they be right? Some very influential people seem to think that it is morally wrong even to consider this hypothesis. During his 2015 speech at a Boston mosque, U.S. President Barack Obama said: “And we can’t suggest that Islam itself is at the root of the problem. That betrays our values.” Unfortunately, our values don’t guarantee that major religions are necessarily free of destructive ideas any more than major political ideologies are. When a religious apologist argues that his religion is good, he concedes that religions can be evaluated. Most people, if they heard credible stories of Muslim converts cleaning up their lives, or reports that Muhammad was a tolerant man, would think that this was evidence that Islam is a force for good. If so, then the evidence could turn out to support the opposite claim.

The Warrior-Prophet of Islam

Muhammad, who was a warrior as well a prophet, declined to disguise his religious intolerance. In his “farewell sermon” in 632 C.E., he said: “The earth belongs to Allah and His Messenger. Until people say, “There is no god but Allah,” and accept me as His Messenger, I have been commanded to struggle and fight with them.” Ayatollah Khomeini and Osama bin Laden echoed these words to justify their actions. On his deathbed, Muhammad also reported to have said: “Two religions will not live together in the land of the Arabs.” These words would be out of place an interfaith potluck, to say the least. And note that Muhammad spoke them after his pagan enemies had been vanquished.

In Islamic Imperialism: A History, Efraim Karsh observes that “Whereas Jesus spoke of the Kingdom of God, Muhammad used God’s name to build an earthly kingdom.” This culminated in the conquest of Mecca in 630 C.E., which occurred three years into a ten-year truce. After Muhammad’s army entered the city in a surprise attack, the Meccans looked on helplessly as Muhammad and his companions destroyed the pagan idols and icons in the black building known as the Ka’aba (“cube”) – now the most sacred site in Islam – forever ending of their way of life. Pre-Islamic Mecca was religiously pluralistic, but ever after Muhammad’s conquest and “cleansing” of the Ka’aba there would be only one religion, Islam.

Ka’aba – The House of God. built by Prophet Ibrahim.

Apologists claim that whatever violence Muhammad employed was legitimate self-defense. An inter-tribal revenge murder was supposed to have constituted a violation of the truce with the Meccans, justifying the conquest of Mecca. Two years earlier, the Jewish community living at the oasis of Khaibar allegedly entered into an alliance with Muhammad’s enemies, providing a pretext for the Muslims to attack them. After their defeat, the Khaibarites were made to pay fifty percent of their produce in tribute to their Muslim masters for the privilege of living on the oasis. Umar, the second caliph, nevertheless expelled them several years later on the grounds that they were causing mischief.

It would be interesting to hear the Meccan or Khaibarite side of the story. Since we don’t have their accounts, I will note on their behalf that it is a strange set of circumstances in which self-defense necessitates conquering a city, destroying religious artifacts, declaring your religion to be the only one allowed, and extracting exorbitant amounts of tribute from weaker populations. The fact that Muhammad’s immediate successors conquered huge swathes of territory does nothing to quell my suspicions that his actions may not have been defensive manoeuvers.

You might think: why should that matter? That was a long time ago! It matters because Muhammad’s life is normative for Muslims. The shahada, or Muslim profession of faith, is “There is no God but God and Muhammad is His messenger.” Muhammad is the messenger not only because it is through him that the Qur’an was revealed, but also because his life is an example. That is why tremendous efforts were invested in collecting and sorting the Hadiths, reports about Muhammad’s life, in the Sunni tradition. If Muhammad was intolerant and aggressive, then there are good grounds for saying that you, as a Muslim, should be as well.

Islam as Totalitarian

You might wonder why the Islamic calendar begins with the Hijrah, or migration of Muslims from Mecca to Medina rather than, say, Muhammad’s birthday, or the “Night of Power” when revelation to Muhammad supposedly began. The answer is that the Hijrah brought into being the Islamic community, or “Umma” wherein spiritual and temporal authority were melded. An Al Jazeera column notes that “the Hadith about the death penalty is not about apostasy in the strict sense of no longer believing in Islam per se. Rather, it is about what can be considered in modern terms political treason.” Apostasy is treason only if the church is the state.

In Destiny Disrupted: A History of the World Through Islamic Eyes, the secular Afghan-American writer Tamim Ansary says:

It is, however, problematically misleading to think of Islam as one item in a class whose other items are Christianity, Judaism, Hinduism, Buddhism, etc. Not inaccurate, of course: Islam is a religion, like those others…. But Islam might just as validly be considered one item in a class whose other items include communism, parliamentary democracy, fascism, and the like, because Islam is a social project like those others, an idea for how politics and economy ought to be managed, a complete system of civil and criminal law.

If you want a second opinion, consider the view of Seyyed Hossein Nasr, who is an emeritus professor of Islamic studies at George Washington University, the author of over fifty books, and the first non-Western scholar to deliver the prestigious the Gifford lectures. After the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, HarperCollins commissioned a book by Nasr to, in the words of Library Journal, “cut through misinformation and give American readers a clear sense of just what Islam is and what it isn’t.” The resulting book is The Heart of Islam: Enduring Values for Humanity.


Despite some lip service to liberal ideals, Nasr makes it abundantly clear that these enduring values don’t allow for any church-state separation. He writes: “Technically speaking, the Islamic idea is that of a nomocracy, that is rule of Divine Law.” Nomocracy is not theocracy, he says, because there will be no ruling religious class. But who will determine what the Divine Law is? Who will enforce it? Here are a few more of his many remarks to the same effect (all emphasis mine):

“There is no doubt that Islam meant to create a community based on justice, one in which the pursuit of Divine Law was made possible, not just injunctions for private behavior.”

“Since God is the creator of all things, there is no legitimate domain of life to which His will or His Laws do not apply.”

“In the Islamic perspective, Divine Law is to be implemented to regulate society and the actions of its members rather than society dictating what laws should be.”

Thus government must be of Allah, by Allah, for Allah. We tend to think of totalitarian ideologies as a modern, and especially twentieth century, phenomenon. But a “complete system” must reign supreme wherever it exists. That means, to modify Mussolini’s distillation of fascism, “Everything within Islam, nothing outside of Islam, nothing against Islam.” Remember that Nasr purports to give his readers the most basic and general truths about Islam – the very heart of Islam – not some narrow interpretation of it. He is as qualified as anyone to do so.

In a recent column, Muslim reformer Maajid Nawaz admonishes us to distinguish between Islam and Islamism, which is “a political ideology that seeks to impose any version of Islam over society.” If Islam is a total system like Ansary, Nasr, and many others believe, however, then this is like distinguishing between fascism and “fascismism,” the belief that fascism should be imposed on society. Both Islam and fascism contain within them the idea that they are to be imposed on society, so “Islamism,” and “political Islam” are redundancies.

Nawaz will say that this view of Islam is wrong. But it’s noteworthy that Nasr refers to himself as a traditionalist, while Nawaz refers to himself as a reformer. This suggests that, although Nawaz says that Islamists are perverting Islam, it is his tolerant version of Islam, not Nasr’s totalitarian version, that is revisionist. Although I respect Nawaz for his opposition to totalitarianism, the fact that all four of the major schools of Sunni Islamic law concern themselves with matters of state – to say nothing of Muhammad’s life – suggests that he is fighting an uphill interpretive battle.

It’s probably best to interpret Nawaz’s Islam-Islamism distinction as being aspirational. Islam as Nawaz would like it to be is not a total system. But Islam as it is now is not as he would like it to be, hence the need for reform. I do not deny that Islam can be reformed, but I insist upon not speaking as if the reform has already taken place. The fact that Islam has the potential to become tolerant and non-violent doesn’t entail that it is actually tolerant and non-violent any more than the fact that a guilty man could repent entails that he has repented.

Islam and Terrorism

Muslim fanatics are responsible for a wildly a disproportionate number of terrorism fatalities. According to the 2016 Global Terrorism Index, all of the deadliest four terrorist organizations in the world in 2015 were jihadist organizations: Boko Haram, Islamic State, the Taliban and al Qaeda. Together, these organizations killed 17,741 people in 2015, accounting for 74 percent of all terrorism deaths that year. And note that these activities of these four organizations hardly exhaust all of the jihadi terrorism on earth that year.

Even attempts to downplay the connection between Islam and terrorism inadvertently do the opposite. A case in point is a widely-publicized report by New America alleging that American right-wing extremists are responsible for more recent terrorism deaths of Americans than jihadists. This claim has been criticized, not least because it begins the kill count after 9/11 and doesn’t factor thwarted attacks into the risk assessment. Another point is that Muslims make up only 1 percent of the American population, and yet jihadism manages to be the only form of religious fanaticism that competes with all right-wing terrorism in the U.S for the coveted title of “greatest domestic threat.”

A substantial minority of Muslims admit that they support terrorist organizations. A 2013 Pew Research Center report of global Muslim attitudes shows that the median “favorable” ratings of 11 Islamic publics for al Qaeda, the Taliban, Hamas, and Hezbollah, are 13, 13, 32 and 26, respectively. A more recent study shows several Muslim countries with “favorable” ratings for ISIS hovering around 10 percent with much larger percentages (including a staggering 62 percent of Pakistanis) saying they “don’t know” how they feel about ISIS. Keep in mind that 10 percent of the world’s Muslims is 180 million people.

These figures don’t include data from Saudi Arabia, Somalia, Libya or Yemen, where you’d expect to find rampant extremism. They don’t tell us what percentage of Muslims support at least one terrorist organization, either. Are the 13 percent who support the Taliban and the 13 percent who support al Qaeda the same people? Given that Hamas is Sunni whereas Hezbollah is Shiite, it’s unlikely the 26 percent who support Hezbollah are all included within the 32 percent who support Hamas. So the Pew figures likely understate the extent of Muslim support for terrorism.

Most Muslims are not terrorism supporters, but that is not surprising. Revulsion to terrorism is expected from non-psychopaths. The Muslims who reject terrorism would almost certainly have done so had they been raised in any other major religion. What needs to be explained is why such large minorities of Muslims do support terrorism. One hypothesis is that Islam makes terrorism easier to justify. I have argued that Islam is a total system. Total systems lack ethical constraints on how power is to be achieved. If that is right, then Islam plausibly justifies terrorism that will make Islam feared and dominant.

Many versus of the Qur’an seem to corroborate this. For example, 9:5 begins: “And when the sacred months have passed, then kill the polytheists wherever you find them and capture them and besiege them and sit in wait for them at every place of ambush.” Defenders of the faith complain that critics usually only cite the first half of the verse. The rest is: “But if they should repent, establish prayer, and give zakah [religious alms], let them [go] on their way. Indeed, Allah is Forgiving and Merciful.” How reassuring is this, though? It declares that peace is contingent upon the polytheists changing their religious practices.

The hypothesis that Islam provides an ideological justification for terrorism fares better than the favored alternative, the so-called “blowback” theory, according to which jihadism is a reaction against Western meddling. The blowback theory doesn’t explain why so much jihadi terrorism is directed at subordinated minorities like the Coptic and Pakistani Christians, and against countries like the Philippines, Nigeria, and Belgium, which have never been imperial powers in the Middle East. It also can’t explain why other groups who are under foreign occupation, such as the Okinawan Japanese, do not engage in terrorism.

Abu Bakr al Baghdadi

My hypothesis, but not the blowback hypothesis, predicts the results of a 2016 study which identified religious zeal, not economic desperation, as the primary motive for ISIS recruits. High profile terrorist leaders with extensive Islamic education provide another data point. Abu Bakr al Baghdadi, the self-proclaimed ISIS caliph, is believed to have a doctorate-level Islamic education, though sources disagree on the institution. Omar Abdel-Rahman, the “Blind Sheikh” who masterminded the 1993 World Trade Center attack, held a doctorate in Qur’anic interpretation from al Azhar University in Cairo. Encyclopedia Britannica identifies al Azhar as the “chief centre of Islamic and Arabic learning in the world.”

Conclusion

When jihadists carry out attacks on innocent people, often sacrificing themselves in the process, we should not assume that they are misunderstanding the religion that they are willing to die for. I have argued that they are not. True or not, should this be said aloud? There is a tendency for people discussing this issue to slide between epistemology and pragmatics, i.e., between what is true and what is supposedly prudent or moral to say. According to Obama, identifying Islam as problematic “alienates Muslims.” Fareed Zakaria said something similar during his recent appearance on Sam Harris’s podcast. That may be true, but denying that there is any problem alienates reformers and apostates. Moreover, political criticism may well alienate our political opponents. Indeed, it may even inadvertently provoke extremists on our own side to act violently against them. Few think that this establishes an obligation to abstain from harsh political criticism.

I believe the situation with Islam is analogous. In the long run, the common good is rarely served by refusing to address serious questions, however painful they may be.

 

Spencer Case

Spencer Case

Spencer Case is a philosophy doctoral candidate at the University of Colorado, Boulder. He is a politically conservative vegan, a sign of the end times foretold in the Book of Revelation. Follow him on Twitter @SpencerJayCase
Spencer Case
Filed under: Philosophy, Politics, Religion

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Spencer Case is a philosophy doctoral candidate at the University of Colorado, Boulder. He is a politically conservative vegan, a sign of the end times foretold in the Book of Revelation. Follow him on Twitter @SpencerJayCase

42 Comments

  1. Arguing against any idea can leave the people who support it feeling they have been personally offended. This is not a good reason to avoid speaking the truth and describing reality as it is. We need this to change.
    Criticizing islam should not be seen as criticizing muslims (by either side of the critic). How can we even allow a reform of islam if it can’t be criticized?
    The same should apply to any other ideology. Every human makes mistakes and noone should live under the expectation that all their ideas have to be right. This will result in blindness or bitter disappointment. As such, none of our ideas should be beyond criticism.

  2. Jane Smith says

    well done. it’s the Deep State you have to convince though that telling the truth is better than lying and obfuscating in order to suck up to perceived allies in the Muslim world. It isn’t of course. It is better if we deal with this problem honestly and openly. Those offended will be those we should delight in offending because we’ll only have to fight them anyway. The reform and secular Muslims will be heartened by an honest ally only.

  3. For those of us in the Anglo-sphere, radical Islam should remind us of the radical puritanism that drove Anglo-American history between 1620-60 and American history between 1630-1703.

    It is a familiar story that Archbishop Laud’s demand for high church conformity following the Petition of Right Parliament in 1628 and Charles I’s monarchism during the subsequent eleven year period of personal rule precipitated a puritan and bourgeois reaction that resulted in ten years of civil war, the Long Parliament, the Solemn League and Covenant, Pride’s Purge and the Commonwealth and Protectorate.

    Through 1647, the parliamentary Presbyterian and Independent factions were allies and, measured by religious fervor and militancy, comparisons between the New Model Army and ISIS are unavoidable. I say this as someone who has a deep affection for the NMA and the Independent faction that suffered a Babylonian captivity by the Presbyterians in New England until 1692.

    Happily for us all, the Independents prevailed in 1649. Although it cost Charles I his head, the Independents’ insistence that the church and state must not be one and their insistence that sovereignty is ultimately vested in the governed got us to where we are today.

    • The Roundhead/Cavalier divide persists to this day as it has never been fully resolved. The Civil War represented, but did not create, a split in English society that was replicated on American soil and has re-emerged today in the current culture wars. It is the Common People versus the elites and goes back even further than the Civil War to the Norman invasion after which the common people were Saxons and their overlords were Normans. The Leaver/Remainer divide neatly follows the Common People/Elite divide. The Anglosphere has never been a united society and never will be.

      • The split between “king in parliament” grandee Whigs and “the governed are sovereign” leveller republicans is fundamental and can never be finally resolved.

  4. Likewise, when some Christians teach total non-violence we should not assume that they are misunderstanding the religion that they are willing to die for.

    • snafubar says

      Christ = Christianity. Christianity teaches non-violence.
      Mohammed = Islam. Islam teaches to kill the infidel.

      Not too hard to understand.

  5. Your reading of Islam is narrow, superficial, monotonizing, and literal. Just read what Corbin (modern orientalist) or Suhrevardi (classic sufist) say about the true Islamic faith. When Nasr talks about the rule of Allah he is actually referring to an extremelly radical anarchist, egalitarian, peaceful, and existential view on social and political order. A view which according to the hermenotic approach to reading Quran is almost perfectly compatible with many other systems. You really need to go back and do more homework.

  6. I admire your hard work going into this, but I must say one must maintain at least some sort of contextual standard without prejudice if you are to be a good journalist.

    1. In regards to conquering of Mecca. After 13 years of persecution the Muslims were forced to flee from mecca; their businesses, homes, livestock, money, property, etc was all sold on the caravan to Damascus. Thus initiating the 1st battle of Badr. The Meccans then imposed a second war on the Muslims of Medina in the battle of Uhud. Once again the Meccans imposed a war on the Muslims along with the pagan tribes across Arabia in the battle of Khandak.

    To end the wars Muslims signed a “humiliating” treaty with the meccans, which the meccans broke by killing Muslims in a night raid. To finally end the perpetual wars caused by the Meccans, Muslims conquered Mecca in a bloodless conquest. (Also there was no surprise attack, both Muslims and Meccans knew the treaty was broken, and Abu Sufyan the leader of Mecca actually went the night before to renegotiate the treaty before the Muslims conquered Mecca)

    2. In regards to Khayber. The Muslims had signed a treaty with the Ows and Khazraj tribes. During the Battle of Khandaq, the Ows and Khazraj tribes double crossed the Muslims and attacked them from within the city while the Meccans attacked them from outside. After the Muslims won the battle, the Punitive measures taken against the Ows and Khazraj for breaking their treaty was that they move out of Medina and go to Khayber.

    After the 2 tribes moved out, frequently the khaiberites would send militias and small skirmishes would take place outside of Medina. Finally the khaiberites sent an army to attack Medina, the Muslims responded with an army twice the size. The Khaiberite army turned back to reinforce at the Kayber Fort. Muslims won that battle and made khayber essentially a tributary state.

    Point is that in context it seems that most of the battles Muslims fought were actually defensive wars. Now all the wars that were imposed on the Muslims turned out to be lucrative for them, because they won them all. But u cant blame the defendant for that now can you???

    • Henry says

      Does that reasoning also apply to Israel’s defensive wars?

    • Richard says

      I find it completely ridiculous to believe that one could expand an empire from almost nothing to the whole of North Africa, Spain and Palestine by a series of defensive wars.

      What were the Muslims “defending” when they attacked Jerusalem in 637? We have the words of St Sophronius from that era which flatly contradict what you just said.

      As for Islam today – well I would believe that thee was a peaceful core if they would return the Hagia Sophia to the Patriarch of Constantinople, allow churches to be built in Saudi Arabia and repeal the blasphemy laws in Pakistan.

  7. The other comment I wanted to make was that, all Monotheistic Religions believe that authority emanates from God. That divine authority manifests itself in the private and public lives of the people.
    The 10 Commandments by Moses, at a closer inspection, are a constitution for social contracts than it is for private lives.

    Jesus came with the message of establishing the Kingdom of God on Earth.

    The idea of the “City of God” is very much a Christian idea, as articulated by the great Christian Saints and philosophers of the past.

    I think many modern/post-modern Christians are surprised at the Islamic Idea of a state “of God, for God and by God” because they presuppose the very secular and atheistic notion of “separation of church and state”.

    The only difference between a Divine State and a Secular state is that the ‘Axis Mundi’ or supreme authority in a religious state is God and his laws. Whereas in a secular state the anthropocentric divinity lies with Man and his laws.

    In conclusion, Christians should not be surprised or afraid that Islam seeks to establish a City of God on earth. But Christians should realize their Tradition and they too should work on establishing the Kingdom of God together with their Islamic brothers in faith and equals in humanity.

    • P.S: ISIS is NOT Establishing a ‘City of God’. On the contrary I think it is a Vulgarization of the whole concept. (And sorry for spamming the comments section)

    • Gabriela Cîrstea says

      @Shiraz Anwer: Nice try. It would do you good to read the Bible. Start with John 18:36: ”My kingdom is not of this world”. Then go to Mathew 7:16-20: ”By their fruit you will recognize them. Do people pick grapes from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? 17 Likewise, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. 18 A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, and a bad tree cannot bear good fruit. 19 Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. 20 Thus, by their fruit you will recognize them.”
      People in Central and Eastern European countries (like myself) have come to know islam by its fruit, throughout centuries of resistance to invasion, crime, rape and extortion. This might explain their skepticism when it comes to welcoming muslim ”refugees”, building mosques and, generally speaking, treating islam as just another religion.
      And political correctness has not yet entered our vocabulary, so we still speak our mind. Words have not killed anybody.

      • Politic Mayn says

        @Gabriela Cîrstea: Thank you very much for your comment. Please forgive me for being a bit crude, but I think you are being a bit lazy with the Bible. Simply quoting a few verses does not really inform me of any theological entailments you wish to present.

        I think you are missing the broader Metaphysics and nuance in my comment above. We as believers, know that absolute Authority is vested in God. Therefore a religious society cannot take an anthropocentric position on power and authority in politics and leadership, to do so would be a contradiction of the first premise. The first premise being “God is the Ultimate Authority, and any True authority comes from God”. Its a top down approach.

        Therefore if Absolute Authority is vested with God, in God. Then that authority needs to manifest itself on the political plane, in the form of a true representative of God. The society that truly establishes a community where God is the supreme authority, that community is known as the ‘City of God.’

        • Politic Mayn says

          So to be even more clearer, I am talking about hierarchies of power and authority. A religious system sees God as the supreme being at the top of the hierarchies and then that authority flows downward. Thus, any authority and power in the Human Agent is seen as a responsibility from the Divine agent.

          Whereas Secular, Individualistic, Humanistic, Atheistic societies see no transcendent hierarchic of God or the Sacred. They simply see Man and an anthropocentric authority (I think therefore I am, and NOT God thinks therefore I am). Therefore in that worldview authority and power is seen to be flowing outward from the human. It’s Man’s laws that rule the world.
          Marxism is an extreme representation of the atheistic, individualistic and humanistic worldview. Atheism/Secularism sees no inherent hierarchies in its ontology, because they have no concept of the Divine or Sacred. Because of that ontological position Marxism wishes to eradicate all sorts of hierarchies and authority is made general.

          Democracy too is a product of the Secular Atheistic philosophical presuppositions. The flow of authority is bottom up. The general public chooses an authority to rule over it. Again an anthropocentric view of authority. In many ways this position is philosophically illogical, usually people think of authority as top down and not bottom up. Yet, we have democracy.

          • Gabriela Cîrstea says

            @ Politic Mayn: Let’s keep this simple, will you? Throwing in fancy words won’t help you explain what motivates Islamic terrorism and neither will ad hominem attacks. Go tell Julian Cadman’s parents that the terrorists who killed their 7 year old son in Barcelona were in fact trying to establish the “City of God” (Saint Augustine’s version, naturally). Of course, the terrorists were not responsible for their actions, as they had received orders to kill innocent people from the “Supreme Authority” by the intermediary of their imam – Abdelbaki Es Satty.
            As for nuanced theological arguments, read Joseph Fadelle’s book, “The price to pay”. Oh, and if you read French, read also “Interroger l’Islam” of Father Guy Pagès.

          • Richard says

            “Democracy too is a product of the Secular Atheistic philosophical presuppositions. The flow of authority is bottom up.”

            In Christianity it is not the flow of authority that is top down – it is the flow of love

            From Matthew 20

            “25 But Jesus called them unto Him and said, “Ye know that the princes of the Gentiles exercise dominion over them, and they that are great exercise authority upon them.

            26 But it shall not be so among you; but whosoever will be great among you, let him be your minister;

            27 and whosoever will be chief among you, let him be your servant,

            28 even as the Son of Man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give His life as a ransom for many.””

      • Politic Mayn says

        @Gabriela Cîrstea: Seems like we are having two different discussions. I was talking about how the ontological position that “God is the ultimate authority” has consequences in the political spectrum, for a religious society that is. And separating church and state comes from a worldview where God is not seen as the ultimate authority and Man is, in other words “anthropocentric”. It might sound fancy, but I actually used it because it denotes a specific meaning, and is not too ambiguous.

        I think you are not engaged in the discussion the same way I am, you are basically making polemical statements in regards to recent events?

        I wasn’t really speaking in regards to terrorism. Nor was I justifying terrorism. I would recommend you re read my comments if there is confusion.

      • Politic Mayn says

        I respect your sentiments you have for the Barcelona attack victims, truly these are hard times for everyone. But I would like you to consider the causes of terrorism from another perspective. A perspective I think is lots of time over looked.

        A contemporary geo-political perspective: Consider the dozens of wars launched by western countries on eastern nations since the mid 20th century. Consider the support of dictators and puppet regimes that have sucked the countries dry of any economic prosperity. Did you know USA gave Saddam chemical weapons and supported his 8 year war on Iran that killed 1 million people? Consider the proxy wars orchestrated by western countries (Libya, Syria, Yemen). Consider the funding of terrorist organizations by western nations (Mujahideen/Taliban in Afghanistan in 1980’s and Syrian Rebel/Al-Nusra/ISIS in 2011-13). Consider the perpetual state of war on Afghanistan that has led to 5 million afghan refugees in Pakistan and 2 Million in Iran. Consider the western support of Saudi Arabia (THE WAHHABI IDEOLOGICAL BASE for Terrorist organizations!). Consider the Drone-Strike program in Pakistan, research shows that many of the victims of drone strikes have been civilians. And consider CIA false flags events that are used to take away your liberties in your own countries.
        Many people in the east actually think the West is having an existential war against them, thus terrorism has gained fertile ground.

        • loopyhoop says

          Politic Mayn, you write as if the USA has only ever interfered in Islamic countries. The US is a powerful country and by virtue of this has pushed everyone around at some point. Take the Central and South American countries, for example. For decades, these were rife with US backed corruption and assassinations. The Far East has had its fair share of meddling,too. And yet it’s only ever the Islamic populations of the world that ever have an axe to grind. Your theory does not stand up to scrutiny.

          As for your earlier comment that democracy is illogical, I would much prefer to trust a man-made system with its basis in the real world than some faith-based nonsensical one attributed to a belief in fairies of one kind or another.

      • Politic Mayn says

        @Gabriela Cîrstea: And finally just yesterday a US-Coalition air strike killed 8 civilians, 8 members from the same family in Syria (So much for advanced precision technology). What do you think the surviving family members will do? It’s obvious in their rage for revenge they will join terrorist groups. This is another reason people join terrorist groups and commit heinous crimes, such as murdering a 7 year old child. Really no sane human could do such a thing, but if u have a person who has seen his members shredded and killed by air strikes (and US Coalition airstrikes for that matter), his revenge will probably eat his sanity away and he will commit those terrorist crimes.

        • Gabriela Cîrstea says

          So, in your opinion, the West is to blame for Islamic terrorism. Islam and Islamic regimes have nothing to do with it. Well, I’ll quote Harbir Singh:
          “I have to wonder why Korea and Vietnam didn’t start pumping terrorists into the world as an aftermath of the horrendous wars there, why oil producers in South America and Sub-Saharan Africa didn’t start pumping terrorists into the world in reaction to western meddling there.
          […] There is oil all over the world and there has been competition and conflict to secure that oil, but only the oil of the Middle East drives global terrorism. The cause is Saudi Arabia, which has used its oil revenues to drive fundamentalist radicalization of Muslim societies all over the world, infesting them with mosques and seminaries that disseminate Saudi scripted fundamentalist, hateful perspectives.”

    • Madge hirsch says

      And what about the millions of us who don’t believe in any of your fairy tales? And as for Christians what about ” Render unto Caesar that which is Caesar’s”? What about Hindus , Buddhists, Jews, animists? You talk as if mankind was only made up of monotheist Muslims and Christians. What you describe as fact about the early Islamic community is just what has been gleaned from oral tradition of the hadith which were compiled long after the supposed events just as were the Gospels. No independent corroberation – more fairy stories.

    • In terms of your actual argument if Islam were actually one thing, as you and many of the adherents you criticize take it to be, then every state that claimed to be Islamic would have the same laws etc. They don’t which tells us that there are multiple things called Islam presumably the different Islams differ in other characteristics including inspiration of violence etc. Your analysis seems like it fails to make any such distinction and gives in to the urge for one broad brush with which to paint vague groups.

      • Also by your own admission since not all Muslims are violent etc. you need to bring in other factors to explain the ones who are violent whether it be something like blowback or personal moral pathology etc; something else (so Islam + blowback = violence, or Islam + social alienation = violence and so on). So you have to speak about Islam + not merely Islam. However the flow of your argument seems to be that if you can justify that some property of Islam is a major factor then that justifies you to speak as if it is the only factor. This is once again lazy broad brush thinking and is intellectually dishonest, against your claim that you are merely trying to honestly raise a question. Surely we need to address those other factors with energetic honesty also if we are to deal with violence?

        • For example when you quote Obama as saying ““And we can’t suggest that Islam itself is at the root of the problem. That betrays our values.” That is ambiguous to me. It could just be saying by root something roughly like, “only major factor” and imply the implicit premise is that there are other major factors. In which case our values of intellectual honesty would indeed prevent us from claiming some inherent feature of Islam is the only major factor (the root of the problem) when we know there are other major factors.

          The good news for your position is that many are happy to blame some inherent feature of Islamic belief and practice, or some feature of some version of it (Wahabism etc.) for all the violence etc. So your position is well defended in various places. [apologies for the multiple replies the Post button disappears on me and this was the quickest fix I could think of]

          • Alnivol says

            The excuses that keep on coming. Islamic violence has nothing to do with Islam except it does. Again…when you have a warlord as a prophet what do you expect? That is the history and the basis Muslims are working with. Of course some of them will choose a violent way of interpreting their beliefs. It’s not really news since the history of Islam has always been filled with violence. Without Islam you have no Islamic groups, no matter what the other factors are. The ideology is the one that unites so many psychopathic murderers in groups. How long are Muslims going to play the victim until they realize that everything bad that is happening to them is of their own doing. Backward is as backward does.

        • Norger says

          And what “other factors,” besides white supremacism, are we to apply to the carnage in Charlottesville? The point is there is a direct correlation between mainstream Islamic theology and Islamic terrorism, full stop.

          • There is a direct correlation between breathing and being a white supremacist full stop, what does that prove?

            If Islam were the ONLY factor then all billion + Muslims would be murderous terrorists the horror this would unleash is difficult to fathom, since we don’t see that, as the author above admitted, Islam itself can not be the ONLY factor.

            Hard to say what other factors are to blame until you look into it which was my point. Still to your example some former white supremacists blame their involvement in the movement on their stunted emotional development and need to belong to a group etc. Maybe this is the case, so similar dynamics might explain violent terrorists, I don’t know maybe the author should look into why this is the case since he claims expertise. [more to follow]

          • Which of a number of factors you address depends on things like which ones are easily influenced by our actions (practical considerations) and what sorts of actions we deem acceptable (moral considerations). Intensive personal psychological counselling for all those involved in white supremacy would presumably be ludicrously expensive and logistically impossible, conversely killing all white people to eliminate white supremacy is I hope considered morally repugnant, a strongly worded pamphlet against white supremacy distributed in Charlottesville is presumably too ineffectual to be considered much good but a nice thought and so on. We can spin out potential factors and ways to affect them till the cows come home. The point is to have a clear general view the factors involved so you can have a clear view of your likely possible points of intervention and then you have to do something; make your bets and take your chances.

          • Norger says

            @Allen Olley

            Your intellectual dishonesty is staggering.

            Let me spell it out for you. Breathing is not the primary cause, or a primary cause, of white supremacism. To state the obvious, white supremacism is an ideology, a belief system. Beliefs influence behavior. White supremacism is a loathsome belief system which is rightly condemned. Get it? But when it comes to Islam, people like you are unwilling to draw that conclusion, despite the fact that terrorists consistently (and accurately) cite mainstream Islamic theology in justifying their actions.

            There surely must be other factors at work here.,.blah, blah blah,

  8. M. M. says

    I’m sorry to say your reading of Islamic history is extremely misinformed and shallow, your theological references and their implications are simply incorrect and your reasoning is highly flawed. Please get informed before you misinform others! I will not go into each and every mistake I’m not sure what kind of a doc candidate conducts research like that.

    I can only agree with Allan Olley that your position is indeed well defended for various political reasons.

    • Norger says

      I would observe that the author’s statements about Islamic theology are well grounded in authentic Islamic sources, that his article is well-reasoned, and that your statements to the contrary are entirely conclusory. If the author is so clearly wrong, how about offering a substantive explanation or two?

    • snafubar says

      And your response is lame and devoid of any argument.

  9. • Within the reform movement some people are inadvertently contributing to more Islam instead of less. The rest are advertently doing so.
    • It is not terrorists or newly arrived boat migrants that are demanding a shutdown of Free Speech. It is “moderate” Muslims and their appeasers.
    • Google/YouTube, FB, Twitter, ISD, ICCT, Quilliam (yes, Maajid Nawaz’s Quilliam), British Home Office, CoE, No Hate Speech Movement, EU, UN – In tandem against Free Speech.

  10. David Margarian says

    I don’t think that you can say something about “the Islam”. The follower of each religion have very different views and ultimately this views are relevant. The Quran says barbaric things but so does the bible. So of course the huge amount of radical Muslims is a problem but you can’t say something about the religion in general because of this.

  11. snafubar says

    Obama said: “And we can’t suggest that Islam itself is at the root of the problem. That betrays our values.”

    Unfortunately, it isn’t OUR values which motivate them. Which suggests that Islam IS THE ROOT OF THE PROBLEM.

  12. Pingback: Is it Wrong to Blame Islam? - Telzilla

  13. Abu Nudnik says

    It’s interesting that Barack Obama’s phrase “that would betray our values” has two opposite meanings.

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