What the West Doesn't Get about Islam

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English translation needed

Muslims who say “Islam is peaceful” are neither insincere nor sloppy in what they claim, but you do not understand the claim “Islam is peaceful” until you understand what peace means in Islam.

“Islam” means “surrender,” and the peace Islam seeks is also surrender. Some have said, “surrender at the point of a gun.” If you would describe yourself as not religious but spiritual, demanding your forced conversion at the point of a gun would be fitting and appropriate in the peacefulness of Islam. And if you refused, pulling the trigger to blow your brains out would be a proper act of peace. The peace offered by Islam is forever incomplete if there are still people who have not surrendered in Islam, and the one world religion founded in violence, Islam, offers a peace that was rightly and properly advanced in this initial violent conquest. “Islam is peaceful” is quite an honest claim but what it is not is proof that Islam, just much as you, wishes so dearly that we could all☪☮∈✡↑☯☦/coexist.

An Indian woman asks, “Anybody home? Hello?

An Indian woman, trying to get through to Westerners who are thick-skulled about getting Islam, explained that when Muslim invaders were conquering in India, many Hindu women committed suicide because they knew “Muslim men would rape them in front of their husbands’ eyes, kill their husbands, and [forcibly] take them for wives.” Not, perhaps, that Islam has a monopoly on soldiers raping: in World War II, after D-Day, U.S. military courts hanged dozens of soldiers for rape, and some of both the court members and the soldiers tried had to be Christian. Rape in war happens, is recognized to happen, and in better moments is treated as a clear atrocity. But, unless you are very anti-Christian, a Christian who rapes under any circumstance is acting in an un-Christian way. At least in the Indian women’s perspective that was articulated, it may not be acting in a clearly un-Muslim way to rape an Indian woman in front of her husband’s eyes, murder her husband, and forcibly marry her.

Western stupidity about Christian fundamentalists as nut jobs and Muslims as much more attractive?

One roommate I had talked about hearing something that scared him silly, about the younger George Bush. He didn’t present this as 100% certain, but he claimed that George Bush, in a meeting with several Muslims, had shown the staggering insensitivity to Islam of saying that God had told him to do X. Apparently only one of the Muslim leaders remembered this striking claim, and that one leader didn’t understand what was such a big deal, but then-President Bush had shown a most appalling insensitivity to Islam and Muslims that scared him silly.

I pointed out to him, or tried to, that on his account:

  • President Bush had done something in the presence of several influential Muslims that was patently offensive to Muslims,
  • Only one such Muslim remembered it and didn’t see what the big deal was.

And these two do not match.

Really, whatever other things Islam may be accused of, we cannot accuse them of going off in a corner, quietly sulking, and leaving the rest of us to play impenetrable guessing games about why they’re upset and what they want us to do to make amends. But I tried quite in vain to point this out.

Whether in fact George Bush ever told Muslims that God told him something I do not know. But there is a bit of illogic going on. It may scare an academic liberal silly for someone in power to believe there is a God who makes such claims on us. But it is not offensive to Muslims to believe there may be a God and this God could make such claims on us; the basic implication need offend Muslims scarcely more than it need offend scientists to say that it is helpful to test our theories by experiment, or that it need offend coaches to say that athletes should train before they go to competitions.

There is a sense among the people I have known that “Bible-believing Christians” are really not enlightened, and are really nut jobs, but with due charity we should pay Muslims the common courtesy of recognizing that they are basically enlightened and not like Christian fundamentalist nut jobs, and that unlike stupid and dangerous types like John McCain and Sarah Palin, Muslims want to ☪☮∈✡↑☯☦ and unlike those weird Christian fundamentalists, they will ☪☮∈✡↑☯☦ quite nicely. Maybe this is changing; South Park can obscenely mock every religious founder but one, as far as Comedy Central allows after Muslim response, and people in the West are starting to act like saying something vile about Mohammed will get a bit different of a response from those nut job Christians (you know, those dunces who just don’t get that we should ☪☮∈✡↑☯☦). But the way it has changed in the West may not be for the best.

If you find something objectionable about conservative Christianity, fine, but understand that Islam is further, not nearer, to your outlook than such Christianity. It is a capital mistake to worry about some kinds of Christians in power and assume that Muslims, unlike Christians, will be well-behaved and enlightened people we need to understand, and if we only approach them the right way, they will ☪☮∈✡↑☯☦ with us flawlessly. If you find such Christians extreme, be ready to experience Islam in power as going out of the frying pan, into the fire… or rather, into the thermite.

Muslims and Marines

Speaking of “Islamic extremism” reflects a fundamental confusion of ideas, like speaking of “extremism in the USMC”. In matters of faith, healthy Islam does not do things by halves. The idea of being a Muslim “on your own terms”, choosing how far to go and which parts of the tradition to embrace, is like talking about joining the Marines on your own terms, cutting the physical activity to a reasonable level and choosing which orders it makes sense for you to follow. This is fundamentally confused.

It is imposing a foreign understanding on Islam to expect that the vast majority of Muslims are moderate, reasonable by Western standards, drawing spiritual inspiration from the Quran without taking it too literally, and then there is that very rare member of every movement’s lunatic fringe, who does things we would find objectionable.

We speak of “extreme” and “moderate.” It would be better to speak of a normal, healthy Islam in full working order, and then of a sickly, half-baked, half-hearted, insincere and inconsistent Islam, the spiritual equivalent of being a Marine when you feel like it.

☪☮∈✡↑☯☦ is in the vocabulary of liberals and of Christians who are rightly or wrongly looked down on. Don’t expect it to be the Islamic voice as well.