In the U.S., all of those embracing Islam and thus the tenets of the Islamic faith are not enemies of the U.S. because in reality, a very small number of the millions of Muslim believers support a violent and extreme view of their faith.
I agree with you. However, this is still significant. Estimates vary widely, but if only 5 percent of those claiming the Muslim faith are radical, and there are 3 million Muslims in the U.S., that would mean there are 150,000 Muslims in this country that believe the only sure way to Paradise (where the 73 virgins are waiting for them) is to die in jihad – holy war against the infidels (that would be us). 150,000 is scary, since it took a relative handful (25-100 or so with their support network) to give us 9-11.
Regarding the vast majority of “good” Muslims who are peaceful, they are largely irrelevant in the big scheme of things, as were the majority of Germans during Nazi Germany. Actually they are not irrelevant. If there are so many, and they are so virtuous, where are the letters to the editor and the vocal, public opposition to the Muslim radicals? Wouldn’t that carry more weight with their Muslim brothers than voices from non-Muslims? By their silence, they condone the murder of thousands of Americans. Those red stains on their hands are the blood of 9-11 victims.
It is interesting that Walid Shoebat, a former Muslim terrorist before he turned to Christ, says that you are either a Muslim or you are not. If you follow the Koran, then you are a Muslim. Not a moderate Muslim.
Let’s look at this from a spiritual perspective. From the Koran, there are the believers and the non-believers, and there is war between them. The moderates may not be enemies of the U.S., but they deny that Christ was the Son of the sovereign, living God who came to free us from our sins.
The U.S. supported the Shah of Iran, a cruel, maniacal and ruthless dictator who allowed U.S. petrochemical companies to own and take from the country 80% of the profits from Iran’s extensive oil resources. The Shah sold out his own countrymen and his death squads (secret police) murdered hundreds of thousands of his critics. All the while the U.S. provided arms and military support to protect its very profitable arrangement with him and the U.S. oil companies.
However, my friend said that what provoked the Islamic population the most was the decadence and wickedness that U.S. business interests introduced to the country, mostly in Tehran. Alcohol abuse and dependence soared along with the concurrent problems during those years. As did male and female prostitution, pornography, and other sex-oriented businesses AND the concurrent problems of out-of-wedlock pregnancies, abortion and sexually transmitted diseases. These problems were almost unknown before the influences of the western oil companies, and especially the USA. A growing resentment towards the U.S. was ignored by both the Shah’s government and the U.S. State Dept. and business interests. They figured the Shah and his “police” could handle it.
Very interesting. I was not aware of the negative influence of the Western culture, particularly the U.S. on Moslem cultures. We just finished listening to a book-on-tape called “The Road to Hell” by a retired CIA official who was in charge of the Bin Laden unit. His description of Bin Laden described him as a man of integrity who told the world what his grievances were against the West, and what he would do if they were not addressed (provoke attacks in 13 nations). They were not addressed, and he did as he promised. Ironically, his integrity greatly exceeds that of Muhammad.
You get the picture. Western interests–especially US. interests–corrupted the major city in a traditionally Islamic city. The first Ayatollah came to power, as a throw-back to a rigid and extreme version of a religious system that was better than the wickedness that our culture offered. My friend also explained the rather complicated and numerous different and sometimes violent (to each other) sects of Islamic influence that are both unique to certain regions and nations and in some cases spill over into different regions and countries. Up to that point, I thought that Muslim people were pretty much located in a couple of ethnically Arab countries, those which opposed Israel going all the way back to Ishmael. And well, I guess part of that was correct–the ethnic Arab part.
I understand why many Iranians would want to get rid of the Shah. At the same time, many may not have understood what was in store with them when Khomeni came to power. They went from one extreme to another. Incidentally, I believe the conflict between different Muslim sects is prophesied in the Bible: “The angel of the Lord said to Hagar, Sarah’s maid and the mother of Ishmael: ‘Behold, you are with child, and you shall bear a son. You shall call his name Ishmael, because the Lord has heard your affliction. He shall be a wild man; his hand shall be against every man, and every man’s hand against him.” Genesis 16:11-12
Most of the violent Islamic attacks in the West have been perpetrated by extremists with political and ethnic ties that may very well be a greater influence than their religious beliefs. The numbers of Islamic peoples worldwide are far more numerous outside of Arab nationalities, yet those perpetrating violence in the name of Allah are dominated numerically by those with Arabic heritage. Islam isn’t the culprit in the terrorism we have experienced; social, political, military, and economic influences are far more powerful.
I agree that most of the violent Islamic attacks on the West have come from ethnically Arab countries. In part that is because that is where we have concentrated our military interventions, primarily because that is where the OIL is. We were invited by Saudi Arabia to come in and protect Saudi Arabia and liberate Kuwait from the tyrannical Saddam Hussein, a fellow Muslim state. This outraged many Muslims.
- But a more intriguing observation is that the very poorest Islamic states, such as Bangladesh have historically produced far fewer terrorists than the wealthiest (Saudi Arabia). It appears that it is the nations that are experiencing rapid economic growth that experience subsequent increases in terrorist activity.
- In his recent book “Secrets of the Koran”, Don Richardson contends that the Islamic extremists who have perpetuated the most violence in the West are the most literate about the Koran and its exhortation on how to live and how to interact with non-believers. For example, Richard Reid, the attempted shoe bomber, had memorized huge amounts of the Koran. This is common among the extremists. These are the fundamentalists of Islam, who take the Koran literally, including its 109 war verses, exhorting violence against non-believers (Source: Richardson above).
- This would be one strong factor that would lead us to believe it is Islam, as expressed in the Koran that is the driving force for this violence.
- Another factor is that in Islam, the separation between social, political, and religious facets of our society largely do not exist. Islam is a total system, in which all facets of life are dictated by the Koran and the religious mullahs of a nation. Turkey is perhaps the only Muslim nation with a secular government, and even there, radical Muslim mullahs seek to take power.
- I would add that in non-Arabic nations with significant Muslim populations, most of the attacks seem to be focused on those governments.
Apparently you and I are in agreement that poverty, limited educational and vocational opportunities and oppressive governing regimes seem to be rich environments for extremist cultivation. But in the Arab world, the U.S. bears much responsibility for the hatred that has evolved in the past half-century.
I agree that on the surface, poverty, limited educational and vocational opportunities and oppressive governing regimes seem to be rich environments for extremist cultivation. And I agree that the U.S. bears significant responsibility for the hatred that has evolved in the past half-century. However, it is important to examine the root causes of poverty, limited educational and vocational opportunities, and oppressive governing regimes:
- Why are millions of young Muslim boys and youth put in madrasses – Islamic religious schools – where radical Islam is taught, but math, science, and other basic subjects are not?
- How smart does the religious/political leadership of a nation have to be to understand that this is a formula for developing suicide bombers, not a work force capable of successfully competing in the world economy? This doesn’t make sense to us, but it makes perfect sense to those seeking to establish a global Islamic empire by force.
- The terrorists who gave their lives attacking the World Trade Center were obviously motivated by something other than economic considerations. A considerable body of research indicates that terrorists are generally better-educated and financially better off than the vast majority of their fellow citizens. Far from poverty being the root cause of violence of violence and stability – or terrorism, experience suggests that the process of economic modernization more often works to magnify the appeal of radical ideologies, as individuals compare their status with consumer lifestyles of New York, London, or Paris.
- Why are nearly all Islamic states dictatorships, with a history of violating human rights of their own people? Can they blame that on us? Ayaan Hirsi Ali, author of the book “Infidel” describes this violence in her life experience of being raised in a Muslim family and culture in Somalia and Saudi Arabia. She has received numerous death threats for raising these issues.
I had an English professor at Ouachita who was a Lebanese Christian. He grew up in a Palestinian refugee camp and honestly asked a question I’d never even considered at the time. “Why does the U.S. support a country (Israel) that is clearly non-Christian? Why would the U.S. openly support a country (Israel) that openly mistreated millions of Christians?” And he made it clear that he was referring to “Christians” in the faith sense, not just in the political sense.
Our support of Israel would stem from multiple sources:
- Christianity was grafted on to the tree of Judaism. Jesus was a Jew, who was born in Israel, conducted His ministry there, called His disciples there, died there, rose again there, and will return there. God chose the Jewish people as a vehicle through whom the Messiah would come, Who would bless all nations. And Jesus is coming back – not to Mecca or New Jersey, but to Israel. So many Christians have a strong connection to Judaism.
- There are millions of Jews in the U.S. who have clout in the financial, economic, political, and media arenas that they exert on behalf of Israel.
- Unlike the vast majority of its Islamic neighbors, Israel shares many basic values with the U.S., such as a belief in the importance of a democracy and basic human rights.
My concern is the assumption that Islam is the problem. It appears to me that other influences have had a much greater poisonous effect upon Middle Eastern extremists. Those extremists have some justification in their hatred of the West, unfortunately. And I suspect that the “Little and Big Satans” are a result of perhaps the same kind of religious bias that we have been promoting against millions of Muslims who haven’t even got a dog in this hunt.
I agree that extremists have some justification for their hatred of the West, but to contend that other influences have had a much greater effect upon the extremists seems unwarranted. We can discover some valuable clues by taking a look at Islam and Christianity, particularly their founders:
- Muhammad led dozens of raids on Jewish and native caravans in Saudi Arabia, for spoil, plunder, and women. If they died in the raid, they would go straight to Paradise, where 72 virgins would be waiting for them. Life is good, but death is even better…
- Muhammad killed many people who opposed his offensive raids, and attacking Jewish communities in Medina because they would not support him and his religion that worshipped Allah, the Moon God of Arabia.
- Muhammad used his religion for his own lustful desires. It is commonly known that, while Islam allows a man to have four wives, Muhammad had at least twice that number. Furthermore, after his own son married a beautiful young woman, “Allah” told Muhammad that she was to become HIS wife. So he took her away from his own son and added her to his harem.
- Muhammad consummated the marriage to his youngest wife when she was only 9 years of age, the legal definition of a pedophile.
- Muhammad embraced deception and institutionalized it within Islam. The Arabic name for this deception is Taqiyya, and the president of Indonesia, the world’s most populous Islamic nation, invoked this very principle in a speech to a gathering of Islamic nations a few years ago.
In contrast, Jesus urged His followers to love their enemies, to marry one wife, to not even think about lusting after another, and to be honest in all matters.
It would appear to me historically that any religious system can be perverted into justification for violence. Certainly, even Christianity has had its shameful periods of violence. But even those times were more influenced by political, economic and power grabbing motivations.
I agree that any religious system can be perverted into justification for violence, but what if that religious system has embraced and even institutionalized violence within it? We can gain further insight into Islam by looking at CURRENT practices in Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and other fundamentalist Islamic nations:
- If a woman is raped, she can be returned to her family (as spoiled goods), who are entitled to kill her to preserve the family honor. Is this not barbaric, and an expression of male chauvinism to the ultimate extreme?
- If a Muslim converts to another religion, his family is to kill him/her, also to protect the family “honor”. An Egyptian scholar and professor of Islamic Culture at the University of Cairo, the largest university in Egypt recently converted to Christianity. Because of his conversion, he had to flee Egypt because his father set out to kill him.
- Female genital mutilation is common.
A mother in Gaza stated that the happiest day of her life was when her son blew himself up as a suicide bomber in Israel. Is this not a culture of death? Islam exhorts its followers to die for Islam, while Christ died for our sins on the cross.
One HUGE difference between Islam and Christianity is that violence is justified and institutionalized within Islam, while periods of violence within Christianity (the crusades, inquisition, etc.) typically represent behavior conducted by a worldly, legalistic, and/or fleshly “church” (usually the Roman Catholic Church) in direct disobedience to the message from the New Testament. Thus the distinction between the remnant – the true, Spirit-led living body of Christ and the large, political/religious systems that use Christian terminology and claim authority from Christ for their own purposes is absolutely critical. Jesus said that His kingdom is not of this world, yet the Roman Catholic Church is considered a political entity, and sends out ambassadors, owns hospitals, seminaries, universities, commercial property, and consorts with world leaders.
I am not particularly well-informed as to the specific potential for religious abuses in the Islamic faith and traditions. What I do see in the potential for violence with the right combination of wealth, power and political influence (in that order) with nations who are predominantly Islamic is scary. Saudi Arabia comes to mind– one of our “allies”. Weren’t 17 of the 18, 9/11 suicide attackers from Saudi Arabia?
I am sure that there are religious abuses of all religions. But what if violence is embedded in the religion itself? What other religion claims that the only sure way to paradise is to die in holy war against infidels? What other religion is known for its schools for suicide bombers?
I agree with you about scary scenarios involving Islam. And in an era of asymmetrical warfare (planes flown into skyscrapers, etc.), it doesn’t take as much money to cause great destruction.
Finally, I think that whenever we reduce human behavior to material terms, and consequently give primacy to materialist solutions, we overlook more significant causes of violent behavior. Ultimately, this perspective is humanist and even Marxist. Marx believed if we could create a society in which all human needs were met, people would become virtuous, and there would be no need for police (he said the police state would “wither away”). And yet, the track record of Marxist nations is over 100 million people being killed in service of this humanist, utopian dream.
In contrast, Christianity recognizes that we are fallen, that we sin of our own volition, and that people can and do really bad things, regardless of their economic condition. It is even worse when a political or religious system encourages this. When a nation is built on Christian assumptions about human nature, which our nation was, it not only leads to greater economic prosperity, it leads to less violence as well.
Yours is a good question. What comes first in this dangerous spiral; the chicken or the egg?
It all started in the garden, where sin entered into a perfect environment. And that sin took place in an environment of perfect economic prosperity – all of their needs were met. And yet they sinned. You know the rest of the story.