Monday, March 09, 2009

Proving Islam is a religion of peace (Tawfik Hamid)

From the WSJ:
Many Muslims seem to believe that it is acceptable to teach hatred and violence in the name of their religion -- while at the same time expecting the world to respect Islam as a religion of peace, love and harmony.

Scholars in the most prestigious Islamic institutes and universities continue to teach things like Jews are "pigs and monkeys," that women and men must be stoned to death for adultery, or that Muslims must fight the world to spread their religion. ...We must blame the leading Islamic scholars for having failed to produce an authoritative book on Islamic jurisprudence that is accepted in the Islamic world and unambiguously rejects these violent teachings.

While many religious texts preach violence, the interpretation, modern usage and implementation of these teachings make all the difference. For example, the stoning of women exists in both the Old Testament and in the Islamic tradition, or "Sunna" -- the recorded deeds and manners of the prophet Muhammad. The difference, though, is that leading Jewish scholars agreed to discontinue these practices centuries ago, while Muslim scholars have yet to do so. Hence we do not see the stoning of women practiced or promoted in Israel, the "Jewish" state, but we see it practiced and promoted in Iran and Saudi Arabia, the "Islamic" states.

...So, Islamic scholars and clerics, it is up to you to produce a Shariah book that will be accepted in the Islamic world and that teaches that Jews are not pigs and monkeys, that declaring war to spread Islam is unacceptable, and that killing apostates is a crime. Such a book would prove that Islam is a religion of peace.
This has been one of Robert Spencer's main points for years - there is as of yet no authoritative denunciation of the more barbaric of Islamic practices from within a valid interpretation of the Quran or of Sharia itself. Islam can only reform in ways that are consistent with its source materials, and until recognized Islamic scholars find a way to do that, all of the Muslim apostates and reformers will never make a dent.

Of course, Islam as a personal religion is not nearly as problematic as Islam as a political movement. Islam itself does not distinguish between the two, even though Westerners automatically consider religion to be a personal matter.

Hence the liberal reticence to criticize Islam. As long as religion is considered a private matter, it is natural for Westerners to be reluctant to criticize people's personal beliefs. But Islam is not just a personal religion in the Western sense; it is a dangerous worldwide political movement that is absolutely antipathetic towards liberal ideas like equal rights, freedom of speech and freedom of religion.

To ask Islamic scholars to re-interpret Islam as a purely personal religion is to ask them to abandon a major part of Islam. Islam is not going to be remade into a personal religion; it cannot be. Muslims living in the West have to accept their status as "just another religion" because they have no choice, but those in Muslim-majority countries - or Muslim-majority areas where they can begin to practice some level of autonomy - will invariably start to add the pan-national, political aspects to their religion as they believe it must be practiced.

And as a political movement, Islam is worse than communism and comparable to Nazism. It is way past time for the West to recognize that the danger of Islam is not so much in its private, West-defined religious aspects but in the political and military sphere.